Brian Murphy, River Forest’s new village administrator, got a good look at the priorities of the village board when approval of his contract at a Dec. 6 special meeting was followed by a 90-minute strategic-planning session.
Murphy will be paid $185,000 annually under the contract, which runs until May 12, 2025, when the term of current village President Cathy Adduci also ends.
“I’m glad to be here,” Murphy said before the meeting. “I’m very humbled and honored.”
He described the board and staff as “absolutely fantastic,” adding that the further he researched the village, the more impressed he was with the board and staff.
“They have a passion to serve the community,” he added.
The choice of Murphy as village administrator was announced in November but the board still had to approve his appointment and contract, a formality completed unanimously Dec. 6. His first day on the job will be Monday, Dec. 13.
Murphy replaces Eric Palm, who resigned in February after 10 years as River Forest village administrator, leaving to accept a similar position in Hoffman Estates. Lisa Scheiner, assistant village manager, has served as acting village manager.
Murphy brings 28 years of public administrative experience, most recently as village administrator in Plainfield for 12 years.
In addition to his base salary, he will receive sick days and holidays under the terms set forth for full-time-level employees in the village’s personnel policy manual, and 18 days of paid vacation. The village also will pay for his health insurance, medical insurance, life insurance, accidental death insurance, disability insurance and short-term disability insurance. In lieu of a village-owned vehicle and cellphone, he will receive a $400 per month vehicle allowance and a $60 per month cellphone allowance.
Topics discussed during the strategic-planning session, conducted by Scheiner, included economic development, infrastructure and zoning issues, and increased collaboration with other taxing bodies and education entities with ties to the village and its residents. Also discussed were environmental and health issues, such as flooding and reducing air pollution and dependence on natural gas. Scheiner explained that staff members would digest the discussion and distill suggested short- and long-term goals into specific recommendations to be presented to the board in early 2022.
Murphy’s contract as village administrator in Plainfield was not renewed in April following the election of a new mayor. He served in that position since 2009, coming to Plainfield from his home state of Michigan. Since June he has served as acting community development director for Fox Lake.
In July, River Forest hired GovHR of Northbrook, a public management consulting firm, to conduct the search. The firm, which serves local government clients and other public-sector entities across the country, had been used by River Forest previously, most recently to fill the village finance director position.
Following a nationwide search, officials interviewed six candidates in a series of special meetings in October and November before narrowing their choices to two finalists.
Adduci cited Murphy’s understanding of economic development as one of his strengths.
Murphy earned his bachelor’s degree from Oakland University in Michigan and his master of public administrator degree from the University of Michigan.
His previous experience in municipal government includes two years as city manager of Belding, three years as village manager of Beverly Hills, and five years as assistant city manager of Troy, all in Michigan. He also served as assistant to the city manager in Grosse Pointe and assistant village manager in Grosse Point Park, both also in Michigan.
Officials still have to hire a new fire chief following the retirement of Kurt Bohlmann in September. GovHR also is conducting that search. Robert Nortier, a former deputy chief in River Forest, is serving as his temporary replacement.