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Administrator contract draws ire

by David Fleet

November 02, 2011

When Jakki Sidge was hired back as administrator in September, the village council was closely divided. On Wednesday when the council convened to discuss compensation for Sidge, that division grew— right out the door.

By a 3-2 vote, the village council approved a one-year deal with Sidge that mirrored her past contract as administrator. Councilmembers Pete Morey, Rick Horton and Richard Saroli voted yes. Councilmembers Doug McAbee and Phil Jackson voted no.

The wrangling of Sidge's employment began with a 3-2 vote at a special meeting Feb. 11, where the village council approved a motion to request her resignation. Then village council president Patrica Wartella said the decision was "because (Sidge) does not recognize the majority of the council since the election (in November)."

Wartella was recalled in May. The village administrator position had been vacant since March.

At the Oct. 10 village meeting a somewhat new council voted 3-2 to bring Sidge back as village manager.

"The village attorney went through what the contract (with Sidge) was," said Horton.

Terms of the one-year contract include $38,000 per year salary, 32 hours per week, 25 days of paid vacation, 8 percent of salary contributed to retirement plan, a $100,000 term life insurance policy, travel mileage and a short-term disability contract.

The deal does not include a $15,000 health benefit package that was in her previous contract.

"It's not a direct duplication," said Saroli, regarding Sidge's contract. "She is not a new employee—not just coming into the job or entry level. Consider too she is now making $10,000 less per year and the village is saving the health benefits. That's a $25,000 per year savings for the village. Now we've complied with the Plante & Moran study. We've followed the pattern and residents are still not happy."

Following the vote, Jackson resigned.

"Emphatically no," said Jackson, in regard to his vote on the contract.

"This was not the job on the table. Not the job she had before. That's not what we asked people to apply for, this is ridiculous."

Jackson walked out of the village council meeting. A formal letter of resignation will be discussed at the Nov. 14 village meeting.

"All four were good candidates for the administrator position," said Horton. "(However) none of the candidates had prior experience to run a village. The big reason was writing grants. It's not a long-term contract—one year. That gives us a chance to see performance or opt for something else."

Sidge was one of four candidates considered by the council after a field of 17 had applied last month. None of the other three were discussed or considered at the meeting.

McAbee was outraged at the decision.

"This is unbelievable," said McAbee. "We'd love to draw up our own contract, You're looking at what you want to look at. There's something there you did not say when we were looking at other candidates."

Saroli called McAbee and Jackson "Monday morning quarterbacks."

"This is a one-year contract, we need someone in the office," said Saroli. "In the best interest of the village we need someone in the office. We can dance around forever."