Elgin officially hires new city manager with 7-2 vote

  • Rick Kozal

    Rick Kozal

  • Elgin Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal, middle, got a pair of socks as a present from Councilwoman Tish Powell on Wednesday night, before Kozal was appointed city manager effective Aug. 1. He is flanked by Mayor David Kaptain, left, and Councilwoman Rose Martinez.

      Elgin Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal, middle, got a pair of socks as a present from Councilwoman Tish Powell on Wednesday night, before Kozal was appointed city manager effective Aug. 1. He is flanked by Mayor David Kaptain, left, and Councilwoman Rose Martinez. Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/23/2016 10:37 AM

It's official: Rick Kozal will serve as Elgin's top administrator starting Aug. 1, albeit without unanimous support from the city council.

A contract for Kozal, the assistant city manager, was approved by council members in a 7-2 vote Wednesday night, with Councilman Rich Dunne and Councilwoman Tish Powell dissenting. Both said the process was too rushed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kozal's yearly salary will be $198,751, same as City Manager Sean Stegall, and a slight raise over Kozal's current $196,399 annual pay. Stegall tendered his resignation in late May, effective July 31, to take a job as CEO and town manager in Cary, North Carolina.

Had Kozal not gotten the post in Elgin, he would have left to serve as city manager elsewhere, Councilman John Prigge said.

"Then we possibly could have been facing having no No. 1 and no No. 2 running the city," he said. "We should look for the best talent possible, but I feel we have the best talent possible right here."

Kozal's contract brings savings to the city compared to Stegall's contract, Councilman Terry Gavin said. "It's a win-win for everybody," he said.

The city paid for Stegall's employee contribution to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund -- amounting to 4.5 percent of his salary -- but Kozal's employee contribution will be deducted from his salary, as is more customary.

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Unlike Stegall, Kozal will not be getting a city vehicle for his personal use, but he will receive a $600 per month car allowance per month. He will not be eligible for gasoline reimbursement.

Dunne said he has no concerns about Kozal being able to do the job but objected to provisions in his contract, such as a $15,500 annual contribution from the city to Kozal's deferred retirement plan. That provision has been standard for city managers in Elgin since the late 1990s. If Kozal elects to receive 4 percent longevity pay, it will be deducted from the city's $15,500 contribution.

Mayor Dave Kaptain chastised council members for nitpicking at Kozal's contract, which he called "standard stuff."

Powell said the appointment process should have better mirrored the city's commitment to transparency and diversity. She had advocated conducting a national search before filling the position.

"If we were a private corporation, this would probably not be a big deal," Powell said. "But we're not. We are a public entity."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When Stegall was appointed city manager in 2009, his salary was about $173,000. Stegall's contract included a seasonal pass to the city's golf courses; Kozal is not getting that perk.

Like Stegall, Kozal will get 25 days of vacation per year, and his expenses for work-related travel and professional development will be covered.

In a light moment preceding the discussion, Powell gave Kozal a gift -- a pair of socks, which he is well-known for not wearing, no matter the weather.

Kozal said he was "deeply humbled" by the council's decision.

"I know from the years working with those who had concerns regarding the process for my appointment, or issues with the employment agreement, that in their heart-of-hearts, they are acting in what they truly believe to be the best interest of this community," he said.

"With time, I am confident we will all ultimately be unified in our mutual commitment to this great city -- Elgin."

Kozal's contract has an indefinite term and provides for one year's worth of severance pay if he is terminated by the city before Aug. 1, 2019.

Powell said the city council has been lax in giving regular performance reviews to Stegall but should correct that in the future.

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