After a long meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Wellington Village Council was in a good mood when it got to the agenda item accepting a contract to hire Deputy Village Manager Jim Barnes to replace retiring Village Manager Paul Schofield, who will leave his post next month.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen noted that Councilman John McGovern had been charged to act as point man for the council to meet with Barnes to hash out a two-year contract.
“Both parties have stated that they are satisfied with the terms of the contract,” Cohen said.
The council’s consensus was to seek an approximately two-year contract that did not coincide with the village attorney’s contract or the next election cycle. At the previous meeting, Mayor Anne Gerwig explained that a two-year term would give Barnes time to get comfortable in the role and also give the council time to reevaluate the situation after the first two years.
McGovern said at the Dec. 8 meeting that he negotiated a two-year contract that gives a seven-month separation between the end of the contracts between the attorney and village manager.
“In the 25-year history of Wellington, there have been just two village managers,” said McGovern, calling the agreement a “starter contract.”
“This contract has us sitting in a very good place for future growth for Mr. Barnes and for the village,” he said. “I think this is a contract that is good. I felt like through this entire process, Mr. Barnes was a full partner, and this is good for both parties.”
Councilman Michael Drahos thanked both McGovern and Barnes for their efforts.
“I think both of you worked diligently to have this completed before the end of the year,” he said. “The way I look at this, we got our guy and, fortunately, we did it internally.”
Councilman Michael Napoleone agreed. “I think we identified right away that you were the one to fill the shoes of Mr. Schofield,” he said. “The plan is for you to be here well beyond the two-year contract.”
Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind remarked that the village was fortunate that Barnes was already on the team and available. “I’m glad you were there to step in,” she said. “I hope we have you long-term at the village.”
Gerwig posed the only query to the contract with a brief questioning that Barnes would receive an $800 per month car allowance, while Schofield had gotten $600.
Good natured ribbing ranged from Barnes teasing that he had negotiated better on that item, to McGovern explaining that the monthly stipend included reimbursement for insurance and that with prices of new cars as they are now, the amount was in alignment of the high end of other managers in similarly sized communities.
“Well, I’m not going to complain for that amount of money, it just seemed like a lot,” said Gerwig, who added that she keeps her cars a long time.
The motion to approve the new contract passed unanimously amid the council members thanking Barnes and welcoming him to his new position.