By Jeff Gallatin
For City Council President Duane Limpert, a nearly 20-year public official, the numbers add up: It’s time to retire from municipal service – at least for now.
Limpert, who is nearing the end of his third year as city council president, told West Life and some government colleagues prior to Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting that he would be announcing his retirement at the end of the meeting, effective the end of December. Prior to being elected council president three years ago, Limpert spent the previous five years as either safety or service director for North Olmsted, and 11 years prior to that as the Ward 1 city councilman. He is the son of longtime city councilman Dewey Limpert and his maternal grandfather also was a village treasurer and assistant fire chief in North Olmsted.
“We’ve definitely had the inclination for public service in the family,” Limpert said. “I certainly went along with that for all these years.”
Limpert said the impetus behind his decision to leave office was the change in state laws pertaining to public pensions. After doing some research on how the changes would affect him, Limpert said he found out that if he didn’t leave by the end of 2012, he literally would be losing thousands of dollars annually.
“I talked it over with my wife and some friends and decided I just shouldn’t be doing that to my family,” he said. “I didn’t want my wife looking at me like, ‘What are you, stupid?’ The money is something we can utilize in the family.”
Limpert, a doting grandfather, said there are other family-related considerations as well.
“There already are four grandchildren and there is a fifth well on the way,” he said. “I’m certainly planning on utilizing some of that money for them, but I’m also looking forward to spending more time with the grandkids and other members of the family. There’s been a lot of times over the years when I’ve been asked to do something or be somewhere and I’ve had to say, ‘I can’t. There’s a council meeting.’ I am looking forward to not having to say that.”
Limpert acknowledged that even prior to getting the new pension information, there had been some informal discussion about whether or not he would seek re-election as council president in 2013 or seek some other public office.
“I hadn’t made a final decision on all of that yet,” he said. “At some point, I hope one of my kids decides to try for more public service as an official as well, but that’s down the road.”
Limpert said he is proud of his public service.
“I’ve always tried to go with the philosophy that North Olmsted is a great place to live and that we can always make it better by working together,” he said. “I never liked being divisive or having a disagreement solely because of politics. I don’t have any problem with someone having a different opinion than me on one issue, but then we could turn right around and have the same opinion on another issue as long as it was what we thought was best for the city. I’m glad that I’ve been able to get along with my colleagues and other people working to better the city.”
Limpert said he is proud of his service as co-chairman of the levy campaign for the new branch of the North Olmsted Public Library, which opened in 2004, and as chairman of the levy campaign for the new Fire Station 2 a few years after that.
“I had people tell me in both cases that it was political suicide to do either, and we got both passed and built,” he said. “They were necessary facilities which made our quality of life in North Olmsted better.”
He said he is also pleased to have played a role in bettering bicycle travel avenues in North Olmsted and getting better, more extensive use of computers in police department squad cars.
“Those moves have certainly helped our city,” he said.
Limpert said one of his hopes and concerns for the future of the city is to have the city continue reducing its long-term debt.
“We’ve done a good job of that the last few years, while still getting new equipment and facilities when there is a need, too,” he said. “I would hope that that we stay on that path in the future.”
Limpert said if he decides in the future that it’s best or at least financially feasible, he won’t rule out a return to public service.
“My understanding is that if I return at some point down the road, it might not be as much of a financial problem for me as it is if I don’t leave now,” he said. “So, I might decide to try again, but if not, I’ll be looking around for the best type of volunteer service to take part in.”
Mayor Kevin Kennedy lauded Limpert and his sense of public service.
“Duane has always had the best interests of North Olmsted at heart,” Kennedy said. “He’s always put the city first, and things have run well where he’s been involved in them.”
City Council will have 30 days from the effective date of Limpert’s resignation to appoint a replacement for him.