Oak Park Village Hall is putting a cap on how much its former in-house attorney can earn, some six months after he retired.
Ray Heise retired back in June after 36 years on the job and started collecting his $105,671-a-year pension. But before departing, Heise still had a handful of unfinished projects that he continues to work on for the village.
He’s tallied 205 hours, or $27,675 worth of work for the village. Heise can total up to 600 hours for the village each year without jeopardizing his pension, but the board capped that contract at 300 hours.
“I think one of the things this board didn’t want to fall into a trap doing is using him as a crutch for all of our legal services, and just falling back on someone who has retired,” Village Trustee Bob Tucker said. “I think having a limitation on the hours is appropriate.”
Heise was kept on retainer to help with legal work related to a now-settled lawsuit with Oak Park and River Forest High School, along with a soon-to-be finalized skyscraper in downtown Oak Park. He’s also expected to help write agreements for future projects on village parking lots at South Boulevard and Harlem and on Lake Street just east of Harlem. And Heise would handle any revised gun regulations that the village explores in the future.
Meanwhile, Heise, 63, has also started his own private law practice. In an interview Monday, he said he’ll likely offer his deep knowledge of municipal law to other communities.
He was uncertain Monday whether the 100 remaining hours was enough time to tie up loose ends, though board members said they could always come back and revise his contract.
“It’s really a good thing for the village because there’s so much that I can do quickly because I just know the village code; I wrote most of it,” Heise said of the ongoing relationship.
Oak Park still hasn’t decided whether it wants to hire a replacement for Heise. Simone Boutet, the assistant attorney, is filling in for now. And Village Manager Tom Barwin said Oak Park plans to send out a call to law firms in the near future to see whether it makes sense to outsource the work.