Mokena village administrator puts retirement on hold
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent August 16, 2013 6:52PM
Mokena village administrator John Downs talks about the budget during a meeting in 2010. | File photo
Updated: August 16, 2013 9:04PM
Mokena village administrator John Downs is delaying his retirement at the request of the village’s elected officials, he said.
Downs, 55, eligible for retirement as of this past April, said the board would like him to “see through to completion” some of the village’s major projects during a time of transition with new mayor Frank Fleischer, who was elected in April.
One such project involves expanding the capacity of the Lake Michigan water system throughout the region. Mokena is among several towns that get water via Oak Lawn’s delivery system, which soon will be upgraded, and Downs has been working with Oak Lawn officials since 2010. He said they are “very close to buttoning up agreements.
“The water project is something I want to bring to a close,” Downs said.
Downs said he also would like to continue streamlining Mokena’s public works department “to make it more efficient and less costly” and continue to help the village rebound from the economic downturn that began in 2008.
“I want to make sure the financial recovery is moving forward,” Downs said.
He said there is no firm length for his contract extension, but he expects the lake water project to be completed in early 2015. At that time, he said, he will “look at” helping with the transition to a new village administrator.
Downs said his salary — $152,655 — will remain the same. He has been Mokena’s village administrator for 25 years.
“Materially, I will have the same working conditions almost since I came here,” Downs said.
He said his compensation for remaining past his retirement-eligibility date will be “some post-retirement health benefits.”
Over the winter, Mokena persuaded utilities Supt. Craig Heim to delay his retirement for four months to get through snowplowing season, and in return gave him health care benefits for a year after his retirement, at the same 90-10 split of the cost the village’s employees have.
Downs said he gave the request to stay on “a considerable amount of thought” and decided he could “best serve the community by serving longer.”