Swansea mayor wants village administrator's job posting rewritten

News-DemocratAugust 19, 2013 

It's back to the drawing board for hiring a new village administrator in Swansea.

So far the village has received seven applications for the position since an advertisement was placed earlier this month. During the personnel committee meeting Monday night, Mayor Ken Mueller told the board of trustees he isn't comfortable with the wording in the village ordinance that describes the role of the village administrator.

"With this wording, we almost have a city manager form of government, and that's not what we are," he said. "If you want a city manager form of government, then, you should put it to the voters and let them decide. The way this is written it changes this to a city manager form of government and that's not right."

Mueller suggested the board of trustees take another look at the village administrator contract and re-write it to more accurately reflect Swansea's form of government.

Swansea has a mayor (executive branch) and board of trustees (legislative body) form of government where the elected mayor and trustees are responsible for the legislative functions of the village, such as establishing policy and passing ordinances. In a city manager form of government, the city manager is appointed and is responsible for implementing policy and supervising city government.

The village is looking for a replacement the former administrator who left the $90,000 position about a year ago. Former village administrator John Openlander, who was hired in 2008, submitted his resignation to the village board in September and officially left the village Nov. 9. He left to take a city administrator position in another state.

Mueller has said he believes Openlander's $90,000 salary was too high for the duties the village requires of an administrator. Even if the trustees approve a village administrator candidate, Mueller has the final say on whether to appoint their selection.

"I won't appoint anybody from another state," he said. "I won't appoint someone who wants $80,000 to $95,000 a year. I just won't and that's the way it is. That's the way it will be until the ordinance is rewritten."

Craig Coughlin has served as interim village administrator since Openlander's resignation.

Trustee Susan Schultz said that if the board decides to re-write the ordinance then the hiring process for a new administrator should be put on hold.

Trustee Ron Sutterfield agreed.

"I certainly have no problem looking back at the ordinance and making changes, including decreasing the job duties and lowering the salary," Sutterfield said.

Trustee Katherine Ruocco added: "If we are going to make changes to the ordinance, then we should hold off on hiring an administrator until we get that ironed out. It's not like we are in a hurry to get someone hired."

Trustee Brian Wells echoed Mueller's sentiments on hiring from the local candidate pool.

"I think it should be someone local, someone with a stake in the area," Wells said. "I think there are a lot of good candidates right in this area."

The issue was sent to the judiciary committee where committee members will look at the ordinance and make changes before presenting it to the entire board again.

Mueller swore in Danielle Beaupre as a new Swansea police officer, bringing the total number of officers on the force up to 19. A full force is 20 officers, said Swansea Police Chief Michael Arnold. Beaupre starts the police academy at Southwestern Illinois College on Friday and is expected to graduate in 10 weeks.

The board of trustees approved an ordinance that changes the deadline for requesting a matter be placed on the board agenda from 4:30 p.m. the Friday before a board meeting to 4:30 p.m. the Thursday before a board meeting. This change was made to give staff more time to get the requested items on the agenda.

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