St. Charles had a chance to make it hard for City Administrator Brian Townsend to leave. But once Schaumburg came calling it just proved to be too good an opportunity to pass up, Townsend said Wednesday.
In the timeline of events, Townsend said he told Mayor Ray Rogina he would be willing to extend his current contract four years with no changes shortly after the April election. That contract provided total compensation of $217,376.63, which included a $193,109 base salary plus health insurance and a vehicle allowance. Rogina wanted time to think about it, Townsend said.
While Rogina thought, Schaumburg Village President Al Larson swooped in. He called Townsend at the end of May to see if he was interested in coming back to the community. Townsend spent 12 years in Schaumburg, concluding as the assistant village manager. Larson wanted to know if Townsend would take over for retiring Village Manager Ken Fritz. At the time, Townsend was working in what would be the first of three month-to-month contract extensions in St. Charles as negotiations went forward.
In the first week of June, St. Charles aldermen inked a second month-to-month deal with Townsend. But word leaked that aldermen were concerned about a severance clause that would obligate St. Charles to pay Townsend for one year if he were terminated for anything other the commission of a crime, misconduct or negligence.
On June 18, Schaumburg officials made a formal offer to Townsend. The choice was easy, he said.
"It's not always about size; it's about quality," Townsend said. "You want to be able to feel like you're doing rewarding work and work on exciting projects. It's a great community with great people and a lot of great opportunities for me. I've really admired it for a long time. Once the offer came in, at that point my full attention focused on making the transition. I wouldn't say St. Charles didn't have a chance. If my contract here had been resolved more quickly it would have been difficult for me to move knowing I had already made a commitment."
The first week of July came, and St. Charles aldermen extended Townsend's contract another month. Townsend was already sorting out the details of the move with his family. He worked out a deal with Schaumburg where he wouldn't have to move to Schaumburg for two years, allowing time for his children to navigate through St. Charles schools. On July 16, Townsend told Rogina he was taking the Schaumburg job. The Schaumburg village board made Townsend's hiring official Tuesday with a total compensation package of $222,450, or $205,000 in base salary plus $10,250 in deferred compensation and a vehicle allowance. The increase absolves St. Charles of any severance obligations.
Townsend said St. Charles' offers were competitive, but "once Schaumburg got in touch with me, from my perspective, it moved the negotiations with St. Charles to the back burner."
Townsend doesn't expect to be part of the secession process St. Charles officials will undergo to find his replacement. He said Rogina and aldermen have already started talking about that plan without involving him.
"Whoever sits in this office, it needs to be a management professional," Townsend said. "You can't rely on a part-time elected official to run a city the size of St. Charles. I certainly hope they hire someone with the education and credentials to do the job."
Townsend cited the navigation of the city's budget through the tough economy as his proudest accomplishment. The construction of the Red Gate Bridge and the parking deck portion of the First Street Development project top the list of his favorite capital projects.
"I know a lot of people look at First Street and look at what all hasn't been accomplished there," Townsend said. "I say look at what we've done. Everything built there is going to be a community asset for years and years to come."
As for regrets, Townsend has none.
"The delays with First Street are factors that were things beyond our control at the city," Townsend said. "It's the same thing with the Charlestowne Mall and the old St. Charles Mall property. If the city was exclusively in control of those things, more progress would have been made. But when you're dealing with other parties, people don't appreciate how difficult that is. If there were things I felt I could do that were unfinished, I would stay and get them finished. But as I told my kids, I'm moving on to something bigger and better."
Townsend begins his new job Aug. 31.