Village manager out in Vernon Hills shake-up

An unexpected shake-up in Vernon Hills is underway with veteran Village Manager John Kalmar being replaced.

Kalmar has been asked to resign, but details have not been made public. He reportedly left in the middle of the work day Friday after meeting with Mayor Roger Byrne at village hall. Byrne could not be reached for comment Monday.

Former Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer, who retired last June after more than 17 years in that position, is identified as interim village manager on the village website. He was not immediately available for comment.

An employment agreement with Fleischhauer is listed under new business on the Wednesday village board meeting agenda, but it hasn't been finalized. The agreement will be discussed in a closed session immediately after the meeting starts.

"He's (Kalmar) been asked to resign," Trustee Michael Marquardt said. "Wednesday, we'll know more." He declined further comment as did other trustees who were contacted.

Kalmar served 14 years as assistant village manager and director of community development before ascending to the top spot in early 2014 to replace retiring Village Manager Mike Allison.

After Allison announced his retirement, village officials talked about a replacement but didn't conduct a search.

"During these discussions, the board and I felt that we had the best candidate for the position on our staff," Byrne said in information provided at the board meeting in late 2013, where Kalmar was announced as Allison's replacement.

The most recent actions followed a cryptic exchange between Byrne and Kalmar last week during a special committee of the whole session on the village budget. While discussing the judiciary portion of the budget, Kalmar listed five lawyers or law firms under contract.

"Do we have any money allocated for recently retained special counsel? John, do we have any money budgeted for that?" Byrne asked. He did not specify the purpose but continued after Kalmar replied there wasn't.

"No? You're sure?" Byrne said.

"Yes, I am," Kalmar said.

"Nobody else? You're not consulting with anybody else on anything?" Byrne continued. At that point he asked Finance Director Nikki Larson if she knew what he was talking about.

"Don't look at me like I don't know," Byrne said to Larson.

One trustee suggested Byrne give them a "bigger hint."

"No. They don't need a bigger hint," Byrne said. "Do you want to go into closed session on that one?" he asked Kalmar.

"It's up to you," he replied.

"Tell me what you know for sure," Byrne said.

"I'm not sure what you're talking about," Kalmar responded.

Byrne said he would meet with Kalmar and Larson at village hall.

"OK. All right. That's fine with me," Byrne said. "You shouldn't look so pensive, John. You really shouldn't," he concluded. The matter was not mentioned again during the meeting.

Vernon Hills Village Manager John Kalmar speaking at the 2014 GLMV "Ask the Mayors" luncheon at White Deer Run Golf Course in Vernon Hills. Daily Herald file photo, 2014
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