After 21 years as the leader of the Arlington Heights management team, Village Manager Bill Dixon will retire in late June.
Dixon, 67, has been village manager since 1993 and has spent 45 years in municipal management. He announced his retirement Wednesday morning alongside Mayor Tom Hayes.
"I had intended to retire from the village in the spring of 2013 but decided to stay one more year when I learned that the village would have a new mayor and two new trustees," said Dixon, whose last day is June 27.
In April 2013, Hayes replaced former Mayor Arlene Mulder, who did not run for re-election. The two new trustees are Jim Tinaglia and Robin LaBedz.
"I thought that would have been, after my length of service here, that would have been a poor time to leave," Dixon said. "I'm glad I stayed through that transition."
Dixon is the fourth manager in Arlington Heights' history. He oversees more than 430 village employees and a village budget of more than $154 million.
When he started with Arlington Heights, he never expected to stay so long.
During his job interview with the village, he was asked how long he planned to stay in Arlington Heights and he said seven to 10 years.
More than 21 years later, Dixon said he stayed because "I've had a wonderful time here in the village, this is an outstanding community."
Hayes called the announcement bittersweet, both professionally and personally.
"I have a difficult time with the decision, because not only is Bill my colleague and co-worker, but he has become a very close friend," Hayes said. "I'll very much miss his interaction. We talk about things other than just business, and I'm very much going to miss him. Bill has been excellent to work with."
Dixon was part of a village government renowned for its steadiness. He was hired in 1993 when Arlene Mulder was a trustee. She became mayor later that same year, and the two were a team throughout her 20-year tenure.
"I would pick him today in an instant for the same position," Mulder said Wednesday.
Mulder said Dixon was a partner to the elected officials in Arlington Heights and credited him and the village staff with the successes during her time as mayor.
"Residents of Arlington Heights have benefited from Bill Dixon's leadership in more ways then we could count," Mulder said. "They were just invisible, behind-the-scenes ways. That's how Bill is, but he had his fingerprints all over our successes."
Hayes was first elected to the village board in 1991 and has worked with Dixon through his entire tenure as well.
"He has been a real steady rock in terms of the leadership of this village on a day-to-day basis," Hayes said. "I'm so grateful for having had him to rely on for these past 21 plus years we've worked together.
"It's very comforting to know that Bill is at the helm and he going to find a solution to whatever problem we have, one way or another."
Dixon said the most difficult period in his time with Arlington Heights was when the village went through layoffs in 2008 and 2009.
"We had people in many cases who were doing a fine job, but we couldn't afford to keep them," Dixon said. "That was the hardest time."
A product of the 1960s and the mission of public service encouraged by President John F. Kennedy, Dixon said he got into municipal government as a way to give back.
"I knew I wanted to work in government and I thought local government would be the place where I could have the most impact," Dixon said.
As for what's next, Dixon said he is going to relax and maybe take a vacation.
"I'm going to take some time to decompress," Dixon said. "I'd like to get involved in something a little less demanding."
Dixon said he and his wife, Marianne, who retired from education last year, will stay in Arlington Heights and that he will look for other ways to get involved.
"I would like to continue to make contributions to this community, be it as a volunteer or something else," Dixon said. He said he will not consider running for office.
To find the village's next manager, Hayes said, the first step is to hire a firm to conduct a national search.
He said it would be unrealistic to expect to have a new village manager in place by the time Dixon retires in June, but he has set Labor Day as an early goal to have the position filled.
Internal candidates will be considered if they apply, Hayes said, but none have expressed interest so far.
Hayes said he will be looking for a new village manager with qualities similar to Dixon, meaning someone with experience, dedication and the ability to build consensus.
After his most recent raise at the beginning of the year, Dixon's full salary package is $207,092.
Before coming to Arlington Heights, Dixon was the manager of Glen Ellyn, St. Louis Park, Minn., and Carbondale.
He has a bachelor's degree from Loyola University of Chicago and a master's from the University of Illinois, according to his village biography.
Dixon is a member of the International City and County Management Association, a board member of Northwest Central Dispatch, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County.
Dixon and his wife live in Arlington Heights and have four grown children.