McHenry County Auditor Pam Palmer to retire in January

Huntley Chamber member Rita Slawek speaks to county auditor Pam Palmer (right) during the McHenry County Business to Government Plug-In Event at McHenry County College.
Huntley Chamber member Rita Slawek speaks to county auditor Pam Palmer (right) during the McHenry County Business to Government Plug-In Event at McHenry County College.

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County Auditor Pam Palmer has announced her retirement, citing her own health problems and a need to take care of her elderly parents.

The 60-year-old auditor’s retirement is effective
Jan. 5, according to a letter Palmer wrote to McHenry County Board members.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make,” Palmer wrote in the Dec. 7 letter. “The past three years have been challenging in taking care of my elderly parents’ needs and keeping pace with what it takes to lead and actively perform work in the auditor’s office.”

Both Palmer’s mother and father are residents at Valley Hi Nursing Home. Her 87-year-old father has been suffering from congestive heart failure, and he recently entered hospice care.

Her 85-year-old mother suffers from dementia.

Palmer’s parents have been near the center of her life for many years, she said. In the past three years, Palmer’s work-life balance became difficult to manage.

“It’s hard when you have both parents down at the same time,” Palmer told the Northwest Herald. “As much as I’d like to continue, I can’t.” 

Palmer also has had to deal with her own health problems, her letter stated, but she asked that her specific health struggles be kept confidential.

“This continuing situation has proven to be overwhelming,” Palmer said. “My husband and I have agreed that I need to concentrate on my own personal well-being, as well as having adequate time for us to assist with my parents’ care.” 

Palmer was hired as chief deputy auditor in 1998 after working 20 years in the banking industry.

She was appointed as auditor in 2006 to replace Ruth Rooney, who stepped down halfway through her term to care for her aging mother and spend more time with her grandchildren.

Voters elected Palmer later that year to serve the remaining two years of Rooney’s term, and then re-elected Palmer to four-year terms in 2008 and 2012.

In her last campaign, Palmer, R-Union, touted some of her achievements as auditor, including the annual financial reporting awards the office has won, creating a fraud and waste hotline for employees and residents, and improvements to county finances made through creating a formal internal auditing program.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed both working in the office and leading the office,” Palmer said. “I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish.” 

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said the county soon will begin a search for a new auditor. He will open the door to applications for potential replacements after Palmer’s retirement takes effect in January.

“The process will be similar to the one we used to replace former County Board member Andrew Gasser – it will be methodical and comprehensive, with the sole goal of finding the best person for the job,” Franks said. “We found a quality County Board member, Chris Spoerl, using this process. I am confident that it will work well once again.”

At the start of the year, Palmer had no plans of retiring.

“I fully intended to fulfill this term,” Palmer said. “I just can’t do everything.”

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