Mayor calls changes at the top 'promising' for Rolling Meadows

Rolling Meadows Mayor Joe Gallo on Wednesday outlined the changes that continue to occur with city leadership and operations, in what was his first State of the City address since the onset of the pandemic two years ago.

Gallo, three years into his first term as mayor, addressed a crowd of business leaders during the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce's annual Taking Care of Business Luncheon, which has been on hiatus since March 2020.

"Shortly thereafter that event we all know what happened, right? Stay-at-home mandates and the world changed. But my objectives didn't," Gallo said. "I still wanted to see a city of change and progress. I wanted to see our approach to economic development become better than what it already was. I wanted to see everyone within the city's operations be more eager to include innovation within our existing processes. I wanted to see silos broken down. And I wanted to embody the mindset that we don't just follow paths of least resistance or activities that are convenient or comfortable for us."

One of Gallo's goals from two years ago was to automate the city's garbage trucks - a plan that is going into effect in August. City trucks are being retrofitted with picker arms that will be operable by one employee per vehicle.

"In the grand scheme of things, I know automating refuse trucks may not seem monumental, but it's more about the essence behind the action and the incremental steps that we've taken to evolve our service offerings," Gallo said.

He added that upcoming discussions on how the city will use its share of federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars would include incorporating technology - like systems, software and sensors - into traditional infrastructure projects.

Gallo acknowledged the many recent changes at the top in city department leadership, from City Manager Rob Sabo, who took the helm of day-to-day city operations in January, to Finance Director Molly Talkington, who started this month.

Sabo replaced longtime city employee Barry Krumstok, whom Gallo and the city council terminated last July, citing a lack of alignment with the council's vision and a resistance to change. Krumstok sued the city and mayor for putting him on administrative leave, which Krumstok claimed was the result of a personal vendetta. Aldermen later settled out of court for $250,000.

Gallo on Wednesday praised Sabo for a "modern perspective" that he brings to the job. Sabo worked for four other municipalities over a 15-year period before his hiring in Rolling Meadows.

"Rob's experiences in other communities has enabled him to bring the best of what he's observed and experienced into our community. And he'll do so because his perspective has been cultivated from outside of our ecosystem. And I truly believe one of the most promising aspects that we have going for us at this time are these internal changes," said Gallo.

Talkington replaced Melissa Gallagher, who left after 15 years last October to become deputy finance director for Lake County government.

And after Public Works Director Rob Horne resigned last month to become assistant director in neighboring Arlington Heights, Sabo said, interviews are being scheduled to bring on a new director by July.

Joe Gallo
Rob Sabo
Molly Talkington
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