Dave Van Vooren's breadth of experience was the deciding factor when he was unanimously chosen as the new executive director of the scandal-plagued Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County.
"He's experienced in finance, he's experienced in intergovernmental relations and he has public works operational experience," said SWANCC Executive Committee Chairman and Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. "We were hoping to find someone who had all three qualifications. And he is a very impressive communicator."
Van Vooren will leave his post as Naperville's public works director Sept. 20 to take over the agency responsible for garbage transfers to landfills for nearly 30 suburban communities. He has held his Naperville job since 2005. Prior to that, he served as deputy village manager in Downers Grove from 2001 to 2005. He was executive director of the Northwest Water Commission from 1996 to 2001 and Plainfield's village administrator from 1991 to 1996.
"This gives me the opportunity to be a leader of an organization again," Van Vooren said. "I think the challenge is to continue to use the skills I've developed to see if there's an opportunity to enhance an already excellent operation."
Van Vooren takes over the post as the agency it recovers from the ousting of its previous longtime executive director, Brooke Beal. Beal is free on bail after being charged in March with stealing almost $1 million from the agency. Beal claimed he was taking classes at prestigious universities around the country, but instead is accused of pocketing the cash he received as reimbursements.
Besides the criminal case against him, the agency has sued Beal to recoup the funds he is accused of stealing.
Van Dusen said the seven-member executive committee picked Van Vooren from 65 nationwide applicants following several days of interviews with potential candidates.
Van Vooren will make $130,000 a year, SWANCC officials said. That's a dip from the $135,700 salary he earns in Naperville now. Beal was making $160,000 annually at the time of his departure in October 2010, officials said.
One reason for the drop in salary is the fact that the executive director will no longer be in charge of the agency's accounting procedures. Van Dusen said the day-to-day accounting of the agency has been "outsourced" and is reported directly to the executive committee instead of the executive director. The committee now receives detailed monthly reports from the outside accounting firm.
Van Vooren will lead a staff of four others, Van Dusen said. That's a significant drop from the 105-member public works team he leads in Naperville. However, Naperville is currently in the midst of union negotiations with many of its public works employees and that's something he won't have to deal with at SWANCC.
Van Vooren said he's spoken with Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger about his departure, but the city has made no announcements regarding Van Vooren's successor or how it will go about replacing him.