Some City Council members continue to say it was David Hales’ decision to go, leaving questions as to why Joliet paid him $95,000 to leave.
Hales left his job as city manager Tuesday night after the council voted, 6-2, for a separation agreement that pays five months severance pay, only one month shy of what his contract provided if he were to be fired.
The council expects to wait at least until January to begin seeking a new city manager.
Council member Michael Turk said he believed it was Hales’ decision to leave, although he did not know why.
“He never really shared with me the reason,” Turk said Wednesday.
Council member Pat Mudron would not comment when asked if he believed it was Hales’ decision to leave the job.
“Based on other things that were said, I don’t think I can comment on it,” Mudron said.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk could not be reached for comment.
If the city officials wanted Hales out of the job, a nondisparagement clause in the separation agreement bars the mayor, council and even City Hall employees from making “any derogatory statement” about the former city manager.
But there is some concern about the timing of Hales’ departure. It comes as work has started on the annual budget, a months-long project typically overseen by the city manager.
Mudron and council member Terry Morris mentioned the budget as a challenge for the interim management staff the city has put in place.
“It was his decision to go,” Morris said of Hales’ departure. “Even after he made that decision, I would have liked him to stay through this budget period.”
The separation agreement also states that the city will not protest any claim for unemployment benefits made by Hales, which employers often contest when an employee quits.
The agreement provides Hales a lump sum payment of $89,584 for severance pay, $5,375 in unused vacation time, and health insurance coverage from the city through January.
Council members said they do not expect to begin a search for a new city manager until January at the earliest and maybe not until after the April city elections.
“I know certainly nothing is going to be done between now and year-end,” council member John Gerl said. “We’re not going to do anything because we have a lot coming up – particularly the budget.”
In the meantime, city attorney Marty Shanahan will serve as interim city manager, and Inspector general Chris Regis, who also is assistant city attorney, will take over city attorney responsibilities. They took on the same roles during the six-month gap between former City Manager Jim Hock’s retirement and Hales’ arrival in November 2017.