The Associated Press
SALEM Jim Voytko, who led the state pension system through a period of reform that saw workers' retirement benefits reduced, resigned Thursday amid disagreements with a new board of directors.
"It is clear there are differences between us regarding management initiatives and the strategic direction they support," Voytko wrote in a letter to the Public Employees Retirement System board.
His resignation as PERS executive director took effect immediately, though he agreed to stay on as a consultant for four months.
The new five-person board that Gov. Ted Kulongoski named took office in September. It has been far more hands-on in overseeing the pension fund than the previous 12-member board. In recent weeks, the board was closely scrutinizing Voytko's proposals to hire many more staff members and revamp the agency's failing computer systems.
"At times that creates some tensions, and it can be a bit difficult," said new board chairman Mike Pittman. "Jim was used to, under the old board, running a more independent agency."
Voytko came to the agency in March 2000, just after the stock market started sputtering in a plunge that eventually resulted in a $16 billion long-term shortfall in the pension fund.
He led the agency through a tough legislative session this year, which approved a trio of changes that halved the shortfall but drove pension benefits lower for tens of thousands of public employees and recent retirees.
MardiLyn Saathoff, Kulongoski's legal counsel who helped recruit the new board members, said that Voytko's departure was not sought by the governor. "The board hires and fires the executive director, so it's entirely in the board's hands," she said.
Kulongoski will propose candidates for interim executive director to the board, which will meet Friday to review the names. The board then will seek a permanent replacement, Pittman said.