Two top Antioch village staffers have been rewarded for their service with salary increases intended to bring them more in line with executives in other communities.
Agreements unanimously approved Monday by the village board for Village Administrator James Keim and Police Chief Craig Somerville outline terms of employment, something that had not been in place previously. The pacts also are regarded as providing an incentive for the pair to stay put in a competitive market.
The agreements call for Keim's salary to increase about 13 percent to a base salary of $130,000. Somerville's climbs about 9 percent to a base of $115,000. Both are retroactive to July 1. Keim gets a $300 monthly vehicle allowance and Somerville gets a village-issued vehicle, which has been the practice. Both agreements are for indefinite terms.
"As high as it sounds, it really is something we needed to adust. It's been out of whack for so long," Mayor Lawrence Hanson said of the salary increases. "We've tightened our belts but we have to look at keeping good people."
Hanson, who was elected in 2009 and re-elected to a second term last April, appoints those positions with approval of the village board.
"We want to make sure they're paid fairly for what they're doing," he said.
A study by the village showed that before the agreements, both men were at the low end of their respective salaries of 11 communities surveyed. The agreements bring Keim one step up to the fourth lowest and Somerville to about the middle of the pack, according to Joy McCarthy, finance director.
Hanson said there was no specific reason for the new agreements, which give both men ä "comfort level" in positions that can change with political regimes. He added the number of village employees has dropped from 109 to 64 the past several years, with everyone assuming more responsibility.
"We have to start looking at the industry," Hanson said. "Are we going to get anybody qualified if you're not at least reasonable," in terms of salary? Both have done "exceptional" jobs, he added.
Keim grew up in Antioch and served as village engineer before leaving for the private sector. He returned in 2007 to oversee public works and engineering, and also had the title of assistant administrator. He was appointed by Hanson as administrator in 2009 to replace Jill Velan, whose contract was not renewed after 14 months in the post.
Somerville has been on the force since 1992, rising from patrolman to commander. In 2010, he replaced James Foerster, who was demoted after a confrontation with a political candidate.
Keim said this is the first agreement he has been offered.
"It was not contentious in any way. It puts me on solid footing," he said. "I want to focus on community service and improving the community."
Last year, the village for the first time established a strategic plan that includes creation of a community vision.
"I want to be a facilitator in that process," he said.