Farewells in the workplace typically involve hearty handshakes. In St. Charles Monday night, the goodbye included a mutual embrace as Mayor Ray Rogina sent off departing City Administrator Brian Townsend with comments hailing his leadership of the city through the recent down economy.
Rogina said during his campaign he heard from some residents that the city must be in financial jeopardy as so many other levels of government in recent years.
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"I say hogwash to that," Rogina said. "I say you and your staff have put together a sound financial structure in the city. I'm proud as the mayor to look at it on a regular basis and see as good a shape as we're in."
Townsend, at his final city council meeting, credited his colleagues on the city staffers for helping navigate the rough financial times right along with him. He said leaving isn't easy, but it is time.
"I do have a very fond place in my heart for St. Charles," Townsend said. "It is a place where I have lived longer in my adult life than anywhere else. It is a fantastic community. I have learned from all of you. Hopefully, you have learned some things working with me. Thank you for everything, and I wish you nothing but the best for the future."
Looking to the future, aldermen unanimously approved the hiring and contract of Mark Koenen as the new city administrator.
Koenen is the longtime director of the city's Public Works Department. In that role, he most recently received an annual salary of $144,125. His new salary will be $170,000. He will also receive a $600 per month vehicle allowance.
The new contract, like Townsend's, requires him to live within the city for the duration of his employment. Unlike Townsend, Koenen would only be eligible for six months of severance pay if the city terminated or did not renew his contract. Townsend's contract called for a full 12 months of severance and was a sticking point in contract negotiations before Townsend opted to take a new job in Schaumburg.
Koenen's contract runs until June 1, 2017.
"It was 1982 when I joined the city of St. Charles," Koenen reflected. "I came here for two years of public service. I was 26 years old. I guess I'm not quite 28 yet. The reason I am here is because St. Charles is really a community of opportunity. I've seen it firsthand. I see great success in our future because people really care. And I will commit myself to that same sort of success."