Oak Park Village Hall

As the end of Village Manager Cara Pavlicek’s time with Oak Park draws near, the village board is ramping up efforts to fill the soon-to-be vacant position permanently. Out of the five respondents to the village’s request for proposal (RFP) for executive search firms, three will be interviewed for the task of finding Pavlicek’s successor. 

The five proposals were reviewed during a July 29 meeting of the board’s Personnel Committee. Village President Vicki Scaman serves as ex officio chair with Trustees Chibuike Enyia, Lucia Robinson and Tim Taglia as members. GovHR and Baker Tilly were quickly established as the frontrunning candidates, with Slavin Management Consultants coming up third. 

The committee found the proposals from the other two respondents, Carmona Strategic Solutions and Koff & Associates, unsatisfactory, feeling the firms lacked experience. Those two organizations were subsequently removed from consideration.

“Interestingly enough, Carmona and Koff & Associates were the most expensive,” said Scaman.

Oak Park is looking to spend under $30,000 plus travel expenses on an executive search firm, according to Scaman. Carmona valued its services at $38,500, while Koff & Associates set a fee of $36,800 for theirs.

Robinson preferred Baker Tilly and GovHR because “both fit generally within what’s allocated for the search firm expenses,” costing $27,500 and $22,000 respectively. The two firms also offer 12-month guarantees against termination or resignation of the appointed village manager. Slavin offers no such assurance and priced its services at $23,901. 

While the personnel committee will interview all three firms later this month, GovHR held the initial edge on its main competitor for its approach to community engagement, which was favored by committee members. GovHR proposed the village hold seven public meetings, as well as circulating a community-wide survey. Baker Tilly’s plan for community involvement largely favored internet surveys and web-based participation over town halls.

“I would like to encourage, perhaps, Baker Tilly to be more robust in their engagement because I do think that can be beneficial to the community,” said Taglia. Slavin’s proposal lacked a plan for community engagement specific to Oak Park. The firm’s approach, as described in its introductory letter, relied more on meetings with stakeholders than internet tools. 

GovHR and Slavin Management both have worked with the village of Oak Park in the past, with the latter firm having conducted the 2012 village manager recruitment process which resulted in Pavlicek stepping up from interim to permanent manager. Baker Tilly has no experience in Oak Park, but the firm’s proposal included four Illinois municipalities in its comprehensive list of clients.

The personnel committee will interview all three firms sometime in the month of August and aim to provide a recommendation to the village board by Aug. 30. The three firms will all be interviewed by the full board during the same meeting.

Pavlicek’s last day in Oak Park will be Aug. 19. The board has chosen Lisa Shelley, deputy village manager, to serve as interim manager.

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