Vernon Hills expected to hire interim manager full time

The interim tag is coming off as Mark Fleischhauer is set to be hired as full-time village manager in Vernon Hills.

Village trustees tonight are expected to approve an employment agreement with Fleischhauer, who served 17 years as police chief in town before retiring in June 2017.

After leaving Vernon Hills, Fleischhauer served as interim police chief in Highland Park. But this past March, shortly after his work there ended, he was asked by Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne to return as interim manager to replace John Kalmar, who had been asked to resign for unspecified reasons.

Fleischhauer was being paid $15,000 per month in the interim role and would make the same amount with an annual salary of $180,000 effective Sept. 1.

"I've had vacations that have lasted longer than both my retirements," joked Fleischhauer, who retired as deputy police chief in Palatine before being hired in 2000 as chief in Vernon Hills.

"When I retired, I didn't expect to have this kind of opportunity," added Fleischhauer, 62.

As chief, he routinely stayed for the informal "committee of the whole" sessions after regular village board meetings where concepts for commercial, residential and other projects and issues were discussed.

"The work is the same in many respects (as police chief), but the focus is different," he said of his full-time role as manager.

He said he finds the community and economic development aspects of the manager's role to be particularly interesting.

And the village has a lot going on in that regard, with the pending opening of the $200 million Mellody Farm residential/retail development, which represents a huge investment for the village.

Just west across Milwaukee Avenue at Route 60, the long-established Hawthorn Mall is looking to reinvent itself after the departure of anchor tenants. Talks continue with mall owner on possibilities.

Byrne said Fleischhauer is "very highly regarded and respected," has good managerial skills and is familiar with the police department.

This year has been tumultuous in Vernon Hills government, with the departure of Kalmar and the entire three-member finance department, including former director Nikki Larson. Village finances now are handled by contract with an outside firm.

According to Fleischhauer's contract, he can be fired at any time, without notice for any reason. He must provide the village 60 days' notice if he wants to cut ties. And if Fleischhauer is fired, the village will pay only the balance of unused vacation and sick time as there is no "legally enforceable right" to severance pay, according to the document.

Kalmar was paid nearly $161,000 in salary and other payouts, according to terms of his contract.

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