The village council voted 3-2 Monday evening to “table” a motion to appoint Paul Burris as the village’s new public works director, meaning that the board will reconsider the issue at a later date upon receiving further information.
After Commissioners Terry Steinbach and Patrick Doolin read statements praising Burris and urging the board to appoint him to the position, Commissioners Mark Hosty and Tim Gillian brought up a number of concerns which they said prevented them from voting in favor of hiring Burris at the present time.
Hosty said that, at the outset of the search for a public works director, Steinbach had said she wanted to hire someone with a background in civil engineering, and questioned why she had decided on Burris, whose background is mostly in water management.
He asked whether Steinbach had considered Bob Kutak, who has been serving as interim public works director for the past 15 months, for the job.
Steinbach said that she had changed her hiring criteria based on the applications that the village had received, and had discussed these changes with the board during a closed session meeting.
The position, Steinbach said, was a new position combining the jobs of the Director of Public Property and the head of Streets and Public Improvement. Kutak, who has been the Director of Streets and Public Improvement since 1998, has been filling the new position on an interim basis since former Director of Public Property Bill Heider left the village about 15 months ago.
Steinbach said that Kutak was not considered for the position because he did not have a Masters Degree in Public Administration and did not have experience handling large projects. She said that if Burris was hired, Kutak would have remained with the village at the same salary, working as a director of operations.
Still, Gillian said that Kutak should have been informed sooner that he would be out of his current job, and said that “this kind of treatment of a long time employee is deplorable.”
“When Commissioners Doolin and Steinbach had made a firm decision to present that candidate (to the council), it would have been the right thing to do to inform the person who had been handling the department,” he said.
Gillian said Kutak told him on Friday afternoon that he had not been contacted by Doolin or Steinbach. Steinbach said she informed Kutak of the decision at 9:30 Friday morning.
Gillian said he agreed that it was fair to create a new position and require certain qualifications, but questioned how Kutak had not proven himself by running the department for 15 months with “few, if any citizen complaints.”
Hosty and Gillian both complained that information had not been provided to them before the meeting regarding Burris’ proposed compensation package or whether he would have access to a vehicle or cell phone as a village employee.
Steinbach said that this information could have been attained with a simple phone call or e-mail to Village Administrator Michael Sturino.
At the end of the meeting, during the time designated for commissioner reports, Doolin asked Sturino whether he could have provided information regarding Burris’ salary to the commissioners, to which Sturino replied “yes.”
Mayor Anthony Calderone reminded Doolin that the agenda called for reports, not “question and answer time,” to which Doolin responded that he “would like to report” that the information was available to the commissioners if they had contacted Sturino.
Gillian said that though the information could have been attained through Sturino, Doolin and Steinbach also could have taken the time to contact the other commissioners or arrange a closed session meeting to discuss the salary issue.
He said he could recall several occasions when both Doolin and Steinbach chose not to vote on an agenda item because they were missing information that they could have requested from Sturino.