Oak Park's now-former village manager, Tom Barwin, has already been gone for a month, but he stands to collect another $125,058 from taxpayers following a decision on Monday.
The Oak Park village board met for an hour and a half Monday night in private to discuss "personnel," according to the posted meeting agenda. Afterward, they OK'd the severance payment in a 5-0 vote with trustees Bob Tucker and Glenn Brewer absent.
Before the vote, Village President David Pope read from a brief prepared statement, praising Barwin's work on environmental initiatives. No other board members commented during the five-minute public meeting.
For the first time, Pope admitted that the two sides had agreed to part ways. The village board was in the middle of its routine annual performance review of Barwin before he publicly announced his resignation from the job after five and a half years on Feb. 21.
"Earlier this year, the village board and Tom met and reviewed the current status of village operations and progress," Pope read from his statement. "We agreed at that time that a change in leadership was appropriate and would enable Tom to pursue future interests."
Pope said the payment includes nine months of Barwin's final base salary, which was $165,411. In addition, he's getting 36.1 hours of unused vacation time. The total severance payment would've been higher, but the village subtracted dollars for Barwin's health and life insurance.
Afterward, the village president declined to answer questions about the payout, instead referring to his statement. He said terms of the separation payment were spelled out in Barwin's most recent employment agreement, which he could not provide a copy of Monday night.
In an interview last month, Barwin echoed similar circumstances leading to his departure as the ones described by Pope. Barwin said he's had his antennas up for about a month or so and was picking up signals from elected officials that it was time to part ways with Oak Park.
At the time, Barwin said he was not leaving to accept a new position elsewhere, and he plans to stay in Oak Park after recently signing a two-year lease to rent a Frank Lloyd Wright coach house. Both he and elected officials refused to say whether the village board forced him to resign, and stressed that he had no plans to retire.
The village board is attempting to set an aggressive timeline to replace the former village manager, whose last day was Feb. 29. If all goes smoothly, they want to hire a search firm by early May, start conducting interviews in mid-July and possibly extend a job offer to a candidate in August to start in early September.
Meanwhile, Oak Park has appointed its head of parking, Cara Pavlicek, as interim village manager.
On Monday, trustees also gave her a pay boost for taking on the added responsibilities. With that, her salary will increase from $96,900 to $125,000 until a permanent manager is appointed.
Pope expressed confidence Monday in Pavlicek's ability to lead the village over the coming months.
"The steps following such a change are never easy, and the decision to make such a change obviously presents challenges for all parties involved," Pope read from his statement.
"At the same time, we have appointed a very capable interim village manager in Cara Pavlicek, and are now undertaking the permanent village manager search process. The village board appreciates Tom's contributions to our village and we wish him well in all of his future endeavors."
Answer Book 2018
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