Vote on employment contract for interim city manager postponed

Megann Horstead | 7/17/2019, 4:17 p.m.
Negotiations for the Joliet interim city manager position took a turn at this week’s meeting of the Joliet City Council. ...

Negotiations for the Joliet interim city manager position took a turn at this week’s meeting of the Joliet City Council. Officials decided in a 7-1 vote to postpone taking action on an employment contract with former City Manager Jim Hock. The lone dissenting vote was Councilman Larry Hug. After the council decided last month to remove the interim city manager duties from Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan, several officials said they received the impression that Hock would be offered the position. Hug said he wanted to know why the council would table the employment agreement. A majority of the council in the past has expressed interest in interviewing Hock for the interim city manager position. Councilman Pat Mudron tried to explain. “We offered to negotiate,” he said. “There are no final negotiations.” Mudron declined to comment further, saying that the matter was discussed in executive session. “I don’t know what the secret is,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said, noting that he, like Hug, did not stay for the entire executive session meeting. A majority of the council decided not to extend the employment contract to Hock in executive session, officials said.

The city is looking to begin employment contract negotiations for interim city manager with Deputy City Manager Steve Jones. Jones said he would like to expedite the city’s search for a permanent city manager. Several officials called into question if anything was changed to the city’s preliminary proposal presented to Hock. Councilman Larry Hug said he wants the city council to release the tapes from executive session. “I’m tired of being stonewalled on this issue,” he said. Hug, O’Dekirk, Councilwoman Jan Quillman and Councilman Terry Morris were opposed to removing the duties of interim city manager from Shanahan. The rest of the council—Mudron, Councilwoman Bettye Gavin, Councilwoman Sherri Reardon, Councilman Don “Duck” Dickinson and Councilman Mike Turk—said they wanted to open up a search for a permanent city manager, which couldn’t occur with Shanahan as interim city manager. Jones said he has reached out to the recruitment firm, GovHR, with an inquiry about performing a search. Several council members in the past have called into the question the cost that hiring a recruitment firm would create. Jones said the city learned that because former City Manager David Hales parted ways within two years of his hire date, the consulting fee portion of the contract would be waived. The expenses for performing a recruitment search could range between $7,500 and $10,000, which Jones said allows the city to have a better handle of the uncertainty perceived by the cost. “I’ve asked [GovHR] to put together a work schedule for us to begin the process of recruiting the full-time permanent position of city manager,” Jones said. The city is also in the process of amending/creating job descriptions for city manager and interim city manager positions. Council action on considering an employment agreement for interim city manager was tabled until Aug. 6.