City, AG can weigh in on pension dispute
By Hank Beckman For The Sun October 30, 2012 9:12PM
Current Assistant City Manager Robert Marshall was introduced as the new Police Chief at Naperville's Municipal Center on Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Marshall served for 27 years with the Naperville Police department before he taking his current position as Assistant City Manager. "It's a position I've looked for ever since I took my criminal justice test at Western Illinois University," said Marshall. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 1, 2012 5:00PM
By a unanimous vote, Naperville’s Police Pension Fund Board will allow both the city and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to officially intervene in the dispute over Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall’s pension.
The Illinois Insurance Board has objected to Marshall drawing his pension from his service as a Naperville police officer, now that he is back with the force as police chief.
Tom Radja, Marshall’s attorney, sees it differently.
“The chief worked 28 years for the department and he earned that pension,” he said.
The board will hold an evidentiary hearing Nov. 27, with the goal of deciding on the matter Dec. 11.
Marshall began with the Naperville Police Department as a patrolman and rose to the rank of captain in 1992.
He left the force to become Naperville assistant city manager in 2005, and then began drawing on his police pension from his years with the department.
The Illinois Department of Insurance has contended that Marshall re-entered police work when he took the $151,000 per year position of chief in May, and is therefore not qualified to continue receiving an estimated $75,000 per year from the police pension fund from his previous service.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office represents the Department of Insurance.
“The Illinois Department of Insurance is an administrative body charged with ensuring the pension fund’s integrity,” Assistant Attorney General Emma Steimel said.
“It is the department’s position that Chief Marshall has re-entered active service.”
But the conditions of Marshall’s employment as police chief complicate the matter. Although he serves without a contract, the city’s arrangement with Marshall provides that if he serves 10 years or more as chief his pension contribution will be put toward the Illinois Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Pension Program.
However, if he serves less that 10 years, his contributions go toward the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
Radja maintained that Marshall has not re-entered the police pension fund.
“The pension code is very clear,” he said, noting that in order to be re-entered into the fund, Marshall would have had to be sworn in as an officer, which he wasn’t.
He has said that Marshall has opted to join the IMRF over the police pension fund since he is an administrator.
The city seeks to intervene in the case not to take one party’s position, but to protect its ability to compete for talent for future positions that become available, city officials said.
“We’re not supporting any particular party,” City Attorney Dwight Pancottine said.
However, he said he agreed with Radja that the Illinois Department of Insurance position was not supported by pension statute language.
Pancottine went on to say that Marshall was being treated differently “only because he took the job in Naperville” and stressed that the city had an interest in “ensuring its employees were treated equally under the law.”
The board adjourned into a 40-minute executive session and emerged with a consensus to allow both parties, the city of Naperville and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, to petition to intervene in the matter as it progresses.
The hearing reconvenes at 2 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Naperville Police Station, 1350 W. Aurora Ave.