Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury has received a $20,000 raise and a contract extension through 2020 in exchange for not pursuing other job opportunities, including the possibility of leading the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.
The new contract gives McGury an annual base salary of $190,000 -- up from $169,744 -- and provides incentives to stay with the Naperville district, including a minimum of six months' severance pay if he remains on board through Dec. 31, 2020.
Park board members unanimously approved the pact Thursday night, saying they want to retain the continuity of leadership McGury has provided since he was hired in August 2008.
"A big reason is because we've broken ground for the biggest project that any of us on the board have worked on," said Mike Reilly, park board president, referring to the $24 million Fort Hill Activity Center, which will feature a fitness center, walking track, athletic courts, multipurpose rooms, an indoor playground and a cafe. "We want to have the person that we consider the strongest person to get that project done."
The extension includes annual 2 percent raises and boosts McGury's deferred compensation, which is the equivalent of an employer contribution to a 401(k) retirement account, to $10,000 a year instead of $6,000. Reilly said McGury will be eligible for bonuses based on performance, which he has received in the past.
The move to keep McGury comes as he was among the candidates being considered for the executive director job at the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.
Joe Cantore, forest preserve president, confirmed McGury was a candidate but would not say how many others are in the running for the post that's been vacant since Arnie Biondo was forced out in August 2014.
McGury said he also has been approached about other positions.
"It was humbling to have a few offers out there to potentially leave the district," said McGury, 54. "But in the end, my heart has always been in Naperville."
Reilly would not comment on outside positions for which McGury was being considered, but he said the former Naperville police officer and Bolingbrook police chief has leadership abilities that are in high demand.
"There are other entities that could benefit by a creative, focused leader," Reilly said. "This is not limited to park districts."
McGury said his new salary was based on research about compensation for executives of similarly sized park districts and municipalities.
The research found, for example, the base salary for Joliet Park District CEO Dominic Egizio is $165,370, Will County Executive Lawrence Walsh makes $246,169, Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges makes $260,879, and Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger makes $178,495.
When McGury was hired in 2008 without park district experience, Reilly said his $135,000 salary was "under market value and that was acknowledged by everyone."
As McGury proved he could effectively manage park employees and produce savings, even while completing major projects such as renovations at Centennial Beach and Nike Sports Complex, and construction of the Seager Park Interpretive Center and Knoch Knolls Nature Center, the park board rewarded him with bonuses and 2 percent annual raises, Reilly said.
That left his pay this year at $169,744, according to a salary list on the district's website.
"There was a mismatch between what his value was and where his compensation was," Reilly said Friday. "We felt it was an appropriate time to adjust him to market value and to incentivize him to stay longer."
While the contract lasts until the end of 2020, things could change before then in the minds of McGury or park board members, both sides say. But for now, McGury is staying and focusing on activity center construction, completion of soil cleanup at Sportsman's Park, increasing golf participation and preparing to build a new central maintenance facility.
"I think I'm being fairly compensated for what I do," McGury said. "I'm committed to filling my end of the contract."