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Townsend explains decision to leave St. Charles

Rogina: 'We wanted him to stay here'

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 6:45 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – Outgoing City Administrator Brian Townsend was ready in April to renew his current employment agreement with the same terms and conditions, but delays opened the door for him to take a position in Schaumburg.

“Once that opportunity presents itself, it’s something you need to consider,” Townsend said of the open village manager position in Schaumburg.

Mayor Ray Rogina said residents have asked him why the city let Townsend leave.

“I didn’t let anybody leave,” Rogina said, noting it was Townsend’s choice. “We wanted him to stay here.”

The Kane County Chronicle obtained emails between Townsend; his attorney, Charles Radovich; Rogina; and the city’s attorney, John McGuirk; about the contract talks through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents show Townsend sought a four-year renewal and that severance was an issue.

Under his contract inked in 2009, Townsend earned about $217,000, including salary, travel allowance and health insurance.

Initially, Townsend said, he didn’t have concerns about Rogina wanting an opportunity to review his contract in greater detail and consult with legal counsel and the City Council. He said Rogina had assured him before the April 9 election that he admired his skills and abilities and had nothing to worry about regarding his job security.

But as more time passed – the St. Charles City Council approved three 30-day contract extensions since early May – and the subject of severance came up, Townsend said he began to have questions.

According to a May 30 email from Radovich to McGuirk, a six-month severance package was being proposed if certain conditions were not met in 2017, the end of the proposed contract. Radovich noted Townsend’s current agreement called for a 12-month severance package if he was terminated without cause during the four-year term.

“In the back of my mind, I have to ask myself if this process isn’t moving along expeditiously, is there an issue?” Townsend said. “I guess I asked myself at one point why would [severance] be an issue that requires this process to be prolonged if they’re not planning to execute that at some point. … Those were some of the questions I started asking myself after about 30 days of going back and forth.”

Rogina – who said he also was inquisitive about the city’s salary structure and how bonuses are determined – said the city had a legitimate, competitive offer on the table.

“From my perspective, the council wasn’t hanging anything up,” Rogina said.

Third Ward Alderman Bill Turner said he is happy for Townsend, but is disappointed he is leaving. Townsend’s salary was well in line for somebody administering a $42 million city budget, and a merit pay increase was “fully justified” given his track record, Turner said of other issues that arose.

“I think negotiations could have been a lot cleaner and a lot quicker,” Turner said. “Things are what they are, and I’m sure that Brian is going to do an excellent job in Schaumburg.”

First Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis said the back-and-forth is part of negotiations. Although he would have liked Townsend to stay, he said, he has no problem with him taking another job.

“Since we were negotiating, he has every right to pursue other employment opportunities,” Silkaitis said. “I’m happy for him.”

Rogina said he considers Townsend a friend and wishes him nothing but the best.

“I don’t think the city of St. Charles drove him out of town,” the mayor said.

Although Townsend is set to begin work in Schaumburg at the end of the month, he still will have ties in St. Charles. His family will explore relocating but not immediately, he said, noting his three children soon will start the school year at St. Charles East High School, Wredling Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School. His wife recently began working at Lincoln, a job she intends to keep, he said.

Because he is leaving voluntarily, Townsend said, he is not pursuing any severance from St. Charles.

Rogina said he aims to have an interim city administrator named by the end of August.

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