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Bob Cleary resigns from city council

Published 1:23pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Former mayor and current Ironton City Councilman Bob Cleary turned in a letter of resignation at Monday night’s meeting, citing changes in Ohio Public Employee Retirement System for the upcoming year.

Cleary said the decision to resign was difficult, but ultimately in the best interest of him and his family.

The changes to OPERS were signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in September and go into effect Jan. 7. According to Cleary, drawing his retirement after that date would decrease his benefits.

Cleary explained he has about 24 years of public service employment, but that only equals to about 16 and a half full-time years worth of benefits since serving on city council is considered part-time employment.

“Because of what’s going on with the laws, if I wait until after January (to draw retirement), you need to have 20 years of service,” he said.

If Cleary draws unemployment before January, his benefits will be based on his three highest years of earnings, which were during his time as the mayor of Ironton.

“My term is up next November,” Cleary said. “I’m only really giving up the next year, basically. I had to weigh it out. Even if I would have gotten elected next year as a councilman for another four-year term, it wouldn’t have worked. Even another four years of part-time is only going to give me a year or two years of credit time.”

Cleary was first elected into office in 1988. He served six years as mayor and has been vice mayor and a councilman. He said the decision to resign was not an easy one considering the city’s financial situation.

“The financial state of the city is pretty hard,” Cleary said. “It’s going to be tough for council to hammer out a budget and not have to increase municipal fees or taxes. And I really want to be a part of that. I really felt like I could lend my experience of being there all those years and try to hammer out something that was doable and livable for everybody without raising any kind of taxes. But in my own situation, I had to look at it. I’m talking until November next year, as opposed to the rest of my life. Do I give up my retirement to be there another 10 or 11 months?”

However, Cleary said this is not necessarily the end of his political career.

“I have a lot of passion towards the city,” he said. “I loved what I was doing. Next year is another year. It’s an election year and I’m really optimistic about next year and possibly getting back in.”

Council chairman Mike Lutz said the resignation took him by surprise.

“It caught me off guard,” Lutz said. “I think he served 25 years in one capacity or another for the city. That’s definitely commendable.”

Lutz said council has 60 days to vote in a replacement for Cleary. If council cannot do so in that time, the mayor will have 30 days to appoint someone.



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