River Hills paying manager for year despite his resignation

Village decides to combine position to manager/clerk/treasurer

Feb. 1, 2012

River Hills - Former village manager Tom Tollaksen will receive a year's pay, title to a 2001 Chrysler Concorde, and health insurance for 18 months under the terms of a separation agreement with the village.

In an unexpected announcement, Tollaksen on Jan. 19 resigned. His last day in the office was Jan. 27, but he will be paid his full $97,963 salary through Jan. 31, 2013. He will also be provided the health insurance under the village plan at a budgeted cost of $17,498 for one year, according to the 2012 village budget.

Village President Robert Brunner said he could not specifically say why the separation agreement included a year's pay, citing the confidentiality of closed-session discussions.

"Tom was within three years of retirement at 65," Brunner said. "The decision of the board to unify the position was a surprise to him. I don't think he had any idea and I think he was deserving of the year's pay."

The board began to advertise a vacant clerk/treasurer position after the departure of former clerk/treasurer Barbara Goeckner whose last day was Dec. 2. She took a deputy clerk/treasurer position in Hales Corners but has been doing some work for River Hills as a paid consultant since she left.

On Jan. 13, the village posted an advertisement for a manager/clerk/treasurer.

Asked which came first, the separation agreement or the decision to combine the positions, Brunner said he could not comment on the Village Board's closed-session discussions.

Tollaksen's only comment about the relationship between him and the board was this:

"Managers serve at the pleasure of the board and it came to reaching a separation agreement and everyone is OK with it," he said shortly before he left the office on his last day.

Brunner said he and Tollaksen had worked well together since 1996 when Tollaksen was hired.

Tollaksen said he first saw the separation agreement on Jan. 11. He signed it Jan. 17 and Brunner signed it on behalf of the village after a closed session of the Village Board on Jan. 18.

Although the 2012 budget does not have any contingency fund, Brunner said he does not foresee a major issue with finding the money to pay a new manager/clerk/treasurer.

There is about $51,000 in the budget for Goeckner's former position.

"We are refinancing two sizable loans and will get a reduction in interest rates," Brunner said. "There are some other areas of savings as well. I am sure the village won't be in a precarious position."

Tollaksen's and Goeckner's departures leave the village with one employee running its administrative offices. Deputy Clerk Elaine Schieble has increased her workweek from four to five days. Brunner said the village also uses a temporary employee from time to time in that office.

Brunner is managing day-to-day operations for the short term but hopes to begin interviewing prospective candidates in April.

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