FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — A city administration shake-up sees the departure of the city administrator and the parks and recreation director, the possible nixing of the treasurer's office and a failed attempt to place the city clerk's post in the voters' hands.
The city administrator has resigned because he wants to go back to school and eventually work in the private sector.
Belleville native Drew Awsumb, 31, said he plans to study what he's most passionate about -- urban planning and urban design. He'll attend classes at the University of Illinois-Champaign, and his last day with the city is Aug. 17.
"Those are tough decisions," he said. "You've got to try and balance all of these things."
He and his wife welcomed their daughter, Elynor, four months ago, and the couple have been reassessing what they want out of life.
Awsumb said that in making his decision, he was trying to keep in mind the type of work he'd like to be doing for the next 30 years, and also the personal goals he wants to pursue.
He's also got family in mind; while his daughter currently goes to bed by 8 p.m., she and future children will have evening events that Awsumb doesn't want to miss because he's at a municipality's night meetings.
Awsumb was hired in 2008 at age 27. His current salary is $74,046. The city hasn't yet advertised for a replacement, because Awsumb just gave his notice to Mayor Gail Mitchell on Monday.
Awsumb is the city's second administrator; the first one, Don Greer, served for just a year before dying of a heart attack in 2007.
Mitchell said he was impressed with how well Awsumb managed the city, handling negotiations and taking care of the business of city operations.
"It was just a big help," Mitchell said.
Already gone from the city's payroll is Terry Wilson, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, according to Mitchell.
Wilson's last day was Friday. He worked for the city for 20 years and most recently earned an annual salary of $73,272.
Mitchell said Wilson left for a better, higher-paying parks job in Madison County. Wilson has been named the Collinsville Area Recreation District's executive director.
The departures of Awsumb and Wilson are the latest in a series of shake-ups involving city administration.
Last month, the City Council voted 6-3 to let voters decide by binding referendum whether the city should continue to elect a city treasurer. On Tuesday night, the Council voted 7-3 against doing the same with the city clerk post.
Ward 3 Alderwoman Pat Baeske proposed the referendum putting City Clerk Mark Kupsky's office before the voters.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Carol Warner suggested Baeske's motives for putting Kupsky's job at stake were personal.
"I was so disappointed when I saw this on the agenda," Warner said.
Baeske said just like it was a fair question to put the treasurer post before the voters, it was a fair question to do the same with the city clerk.
"It has noting to do with Mark Kupsky," Baeske said.
Proponents of cutting the treasurer position argued that the city only needs a full-time finance director, and cutting the part-time city treasurer position would save the city $9,600 per year. The city hired Finance Director Scott Borror in 2011. His annual salary is $65,000.
But Warner said there is no such position to take over the city clerk's job.
Baeske said the city clerk's position could fall under the city administrator. The clerk's duties require a day-to-day presence at the city as opposed to the current part-time situation, she said.
The same core group that voted for the treasurer referendum, voted against the city clerk referendum: Warner, Ward 1 Alderman Josh Frawley, Ward 2 Aldermen Roger Lowry and Speed Allen Jr., Ward 3 Scott Greenwald and Ward 4 Alderwoman Linda Arnold. Ward 5 Alderwoman Sandy Baldwin was absent for the treasurer vote and voted "present," which was counted as a no, in the city clerk vote.
Baeske, Ward 1 Alderman Norm Miller and Ward 5 Alderwoman Bonnie Crossley voted for the clerk referendum with only Baeske supporting the treasurer referendum out of this group, after switching her vote from "no" to "yes."
Contact reporter Laura Girresch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2507.