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Village shake-up considered

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At the Aug. 15 Village Council meeting, several Council members expressed reluctant support for a proposal from Village Manager Mark Cundiff to reorganize the Village staff to add an assistant manager position. The change, if pursued, would mean eliminating the jobs of two senior Village employees.

“It’s a very difficult situation. If we had our choice, we would have more funding,” said Council President Judith Hempfling. “We have limited resources and a Village manager who needs support.”

The reorganization would cut the jobs of Village Assistant Planner Ed Amrhein, who has worked for the Village since 2004, and Economic Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Wildman, who is in her second year on the job.

“I believe we on Council have been compassionate in the past and that compassion hasn’t disappeared,” Hempfling said. “I feel badly that to address the needs of the community we have to negatively impact two employees. We are friends and neighbors of these two people, who are decent and kind and wonderful members of the Village staff community.”

The Aug. 15 agenda item was discussion only. The discussion of the proposal will continue at Council’s Sept. 6 meeting, at which time Council may direct Cundiff, who is in his third year as Village manager, to prepare legislation on the reorganization.

In a memo, Cundiff stated that discussions about how to reduce the Village manager’s workload has been going on for some time. Currently, he wrote, he is not able to take vacation time because there is no one to take his place; because he can’t take his vacation, he has lost some vacation time allotted to him. Earlier in the summer he was asked by Council to think about how to reorganize the Village workforce to help lessen his load.

Factors contributing to Cundiff’s large workload include his being the “de facto” Village community development director, HR director, public works director and parks director; having to spend large amounts of time learning how to run an electrical utility; and backing up other employees when they are gone, even though he has no one to back him up, Cundiff wrote.

According to Hempfling, some of his recent responsibilities have included coordinating work on the Home, Inc. proposal for senior apartments and the Home, Inc. Cemetery Street project, overseeing the solar farm project, overseeing infrastructure work, producing information for the recent tax levy renewal, and writing reports for Council on most agenda items.

“Mark has done a good job. He’s a work-horse. He really produces,” Hempfling said.

In his written recommendation, Cundiff also urged Council to expand the current contractual relationship with electrical consultants Courtney and Associates to advise the Village on electrical utility issues, an increased cost to be absorbed by surplus in the Village electric fund.

The salaries of a new Village assistant manager would likely be less than the combined salaries of the two positions proposed to be eliminated, Cundiff stated. The person in that job would assume most of the current functions of the Village planning assistant and economic sustainability coordinator.

Cundiff recommended that the re-organization take place Jan. 1, 2012.

“This was not an easy process,” Cundiff wrote in the recommendation, stating that those in the jobs to be eliminated “both are very nice persons and have admiration for the Village.” He thanked Amrhein and Wildman for being “gracious and understanding” regarding the new plan.

In comments to Council, Wildman stated that she supported Cundiff and enjoyed working with him. Villager Debra Wilburn urged Council to find ways to use Amrhein and Wildman as the back-up that Cundiff needs in order to make use of their institutional knowledge, and eliminate the cost of a search for a new employee.


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