Phil CotterFile 2011/Staff

After a successful run as interim director of the River Forest Public Works Department, Phil Cotter was appointed the permanent director by the village board of trustees at Monday night’s meeting. Trustees also voted to leave Cotter’s former position, assistant director, vacant and reorganize some of the responsibilities of public works and village administration.

Village Administrator Eric Palm recommended the reorganization to the board as an effort to “synergize” the functions of each department. For instance, the Building Department, currently part of public works, is responsible for building maintenance, property maintenance and inspection. The department also advises on land-use issues and handles zoning issues.

“We’ll move the building and land-use zoning function out of public works and into the administration office,” said Palm in an interview after the meeting. The village also plans to hire an assistant village administrator to oversee that function and handle other items, including human resources and risk management.

Palm said the village may post the position as soon as next week, but it won’t likely be filled until after the new fiscal year begins in May.

Meanwhile, though the assistant public works position will remain unfilled, the board agreed to put an internship in next year’s budget to assist with projects.

Cotter was named director of public works with a salary set at $100,000.

President John Rigas said the board had been discussing the idea of naming Cotter director before the early February blizzard that dropped two feet of snow on River Forest and surrounding areas and that his performance during the storm was not the determining factor in his appointment. But Rigas called it Cotter’s “first test” as public works director.

The board agreed that Cotter passed that test with flying colors. Trustee Catherine Adduci pointed out that the past year has been one of the worst ever in terms of natural disasters, with the blizzard and last summer’s floods. Both fell under Cotter’s responsibility as interim director, which began last spring.

“I’m truly honored and privileged by your appointment of me this evening,” Cotter told board members at the meeting. “I’m humbled by your trust and support and will certainly continue to do the very best I can. I’m just one of the 14 or 15 or 16 of us, and without a doubt, we’ll continue to serve this community to the best of our ability moving forward.”

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