Village Staff Working Hard to Fill Big Shoes of Anthony Thomas, Late Coordinator of Compliance

By Michael Romain

At a December 11, Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Assistant Village Manager David Myers presented a recommendation to the Board that the position of Coordinator of Compliance, long-held by the late Anthony Thomas, who died suddenly in August, be dissolved and replaced by an arrangement that allows for a much broader distribution of labor.

“You’re filling awfully big shoes,” said Trustee Ron Rivers, alluding to the fact that Mr. Thomas’s exceptional competence, and the vastly diverse experience and knowledge he accumulated over more than 30 years with the Village, translated into a super-employee who was virtually the equivalent of a small team of employees.

A lot of Mr. Thomas’s work was overlapping, particularly between the areas of zoning and code enforcement. Since his death, there’s been a labor vacuum at Village Hall in these areas. This explains Mr. Myers’ insistence that the Village Board draft an ordinance giving staff the authority to re-organize as soon as possible.

The arrangement would call for Mr. Thomas’s position of Coordinator of Compliance to be replaced by the less senior (and thus less costly) position of Zoning Officer/Planner, the functions of which would be much less demanding than those managed by Mr. Thomas. The balance of outstanding labor would be spread among existing employees, all of whom, according to Mr. Myers, have been cross-trained to execute tasks in both zoning and code enforcement.

Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross expressed reservations about the proposal, which she said had not addressed concerns that she’d presented weeks ago. She cited confusion in the job titles and the murkiness of the proposal’s language among her concerns.

Mr. Myers attempted to address Trustee Ealey-Cross’s worries point-by-point.

“[You] suggested job descriptions–that was provided. [You] wanted employee names–that was provided,” he said at one point. Mr. Myers emphasized that with the immanent departure of Village Manager William Barlow, the new position would need to be filled soon. However, Trustee Ealey-Cross noted that there was “still a lot to be addressed.”

A motion was introduced to refer the matter to the December 17, regular board meeting, at which point the Board would decide on whether or not to direct staff to implement the recommendation and bring back a draft for approval in January–around the time at which Mr. Barlow is set to retire. The motion was approved 6-1, with Trustee Ealey-Cross voting ‘No’. VFP

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