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updated: 6/25/2013 9:57 AM

Prospect Hts. moves on severance for airport manager

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The Prospect Heights City Council approved a severance agreement with Dennis Rouleau, longtime manager of the Chicago Executive Airport who is facing a serious health procedure.

Wheeling, co-owner of the airport, has taken no public action on Rouleau, and the airport board has an executive session scheduled Tuesday.

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Under the action Monday night in Prospect Heights, Rouleau's employment will terminate at the end of the year after seven months of medical leave. After that he will receive 18 months of his base salary, which is about $148,000 a year, and the cost of health care insurance through COBRA for the same period.

The two municipalities that own the airport apparently disagree over whose job it is to deal with the possibility of a long absence if Rouleau wanted to remain as airport manager and who should approve a severance agreement.

Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer said the municipalities are in charge of the airport. But Wheeling Village President Dean Argiris said any severance agreement is up to the airport board, and the only role the two governments have in this matter is approving a budget change to pay for any costs of the agreement.

Argiris said in advance of the Prospect Heights meeting that the city "was overstepping its bounds" in approving a settlement agreement.

All officials involved praise Rouleau, who has worked 24 years for the airport and been in charge almost half that time. However, Helmer and David Kolssak, acting chairman of the airport board, have both said the airport needs a manager on board. Argiris said new leadership can be beneficial to organizations.

The 52-year-old Rouleau revealed last week that he needs a bone marrow stem cell transplant due to a condition called polycythemia vera. He expects recovery to take until the end of the year.

Kolssak has said that Jamie L. Abbott, assistant airport manager, will be acting manager.

Helmer and Argiris both served on the airport board before their elections to their municipalities' top positions.

Currently, the airport board has no chairman because the two governments have not agreed on one. Prospect Heights also has said for years that Wheeling owes it a share of sales tax from businesses at the airport.

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