Sparks to retire, return next day

Leader says his ‘double dip’ to help Children Services

2/21/2014
BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dean Sparks
Dean Sparks

The executive director of Lucas County Children Services will retire next month, then be hired back the next day.

Dean Sparks, who has led the department since 1997, will retire as executive director on March 31 and will return April 1 on a contract that runs until August, 2015. He will take a pay cut, but end up with significantly more take-home pay because he will receive his salary and pension.

“I'm not going to try to hide that, nor am I going to apologize for it,” he said.

Mr. Sparks currently makes about $134,000 annually; on April 1, his salary will decrease to $123,000.

He estimated he'll receive at least $70,000 a year from his pension, however.

Mr. Sparks, 60, said he has worked for children services departments for more than 30 years and has been eligible to retire for about a year and a half. He acknowledged the stigma around “double dipping” and argued the arrangement is a benefit to both the department and himself.

Mr. Sparks' pension is money he contributed, so the agency saves more than $10,000. He could stay retired, but he said Children Services has lost several top administrators in recent months and his departure right now would create a leadership vacuum. That would be especially challenging for the department, he said, because Children Services has lost significant funding in recent years and faces a tight budget.

He said he will continue in his current role as well as recruit new administrators and work on a succession plan for his replacement.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.