As Northfield trustees, led by Village President Greg Lungmus, called for unity on Monday, July 17, the board also approved a potential turning point from its tumultuous 2023 path: agreeing on a new employment agreement and a settlement agreement with outgoing Village Manager Stacy Sigman.
The agreements, which The Record obtained (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE DOCUMENTS), set the table for Sigman to serve out the remainder of her contract in a part-time role away from Village Hall.
As the director of special projects, the agreement says, Sigman will earn an annual base salary of $267,000 as long as she works 1,000 hours a year, a number that equates to 25 40-hour work weeks. The contract adds that Sigman must perform all responsibilities of her position, which may require more than 1,000 hours as overseen by the village manager.
Sigman’s new position comes with a benefits package that includes health insurance, 12 vacation days and six sick days, according to the agreement, which also asserts that Sigman “will perform her work remotely. If her presence at Village Hall is requested by the village manager, however, the Village must cover Sigman’s travel expenses, including “air travel, hotels and other miscellaneous expenses.”
For the length of the contract, which ends on May 1, 2025, Sigman may also take on outside employment, as long as it does not interfere with her role with the Village, according to the contract.
Under the new role, Sigman may take on work associated with the Happ Road renovations and litigation matters. The Northfield Village Board of Trustees will have “no supervisory authority over” Sigman, the agreement reads, adding that the board may only remove Sigman and terminate her contract if recommended by the village manager.
Trustees also approved a release and settlement agreement with Sigman, who will drop all pending and future claims against the Village of Northfield and Village Board in exchange for $85,000. A majority of that sum, $50,000, is a payment to Sigman, while the other $35,000 is identified as reimbursement for attorney fees.
Trustees agreed in principle to the agreements on July 10 during a special meeting that included a four-hour closed-door session among Sigman, trustees and both parties’ attorneys.
As previously reported by The Record, the July 10 special meeting was called in response to Sigman’s surprise early retirement announcement made via internal email on June 30. As part of the separation agreement, Sigman rescinded her retirement announcement.
Village Counsel Buzz Hill said on July 17 said the resolutions include a supplement that ensures “each and all issues involving her current employment by the village are completely and for all time resolved.”
As also previously reported by The Record, pending and threatened litigation included cease-and-desist letters sent to Trustees Barnaby Dinges, Charlie Orth and Tom Whittaker that accused the trustees of spreading false information about Sigman and Lungmus. Sigman also had alleged the board hindered her ability to do her job, formally known as a constructive discharge.
Sigman did not address the new contract during the July 17 meeting and did not respond to The Record’s requests for comment.
Amid the turmoil facing the Village, many residents have publicly supported Sigman and her 25 years of service to Northfield — 19 of them as village manager — through emails to the board, online petitions and testimony during meetings.
As he has done during prior meetings, Lungmus took time on July 17 to praise Sigman, eventually prompting applause.
“It’s a sad day for the village of Northfield for losing the important leadership (of Stacy),” Lungmus said. “This woman has given a quarter century of her life to the betterment of this village.
” …Her devotion to this village and the work ethic that she displays every day is just remarkable.”
Trustees also approved three consent agenda resolutions that confirmed appointments to multiple village positions. The approved appointments include Holly Fabbri, an executive assistant in the administrative department, adding village clerk duties. Sigman previously announced that Fabbri was resigning in mid July.
The Village’s Finance Director Kathleen Morely will also serve as deputy village clerk, and former Finance Director Steve Noble was approved as interim village manager.
The Record could not obtain compensation information related to the three appointments by press time (Thursday, July 20).
Noble will step into the role of acting village manager on Wednesday, July 19, and will remain in the position for two months, until Sept. 19, according to the approved agreement.
As discussed during a Committee of the Whole meeting that preceded the board’s July 17 regular meeting, the Village will seek a second interim village manager to replace Noble and serve in the role until a permanent village manager is selected.
Mike Earl — the senior vice president of GovTemps, a Northbrook-based firm that the board is considering to handle the recruitment process — told trustees that Lungmus provided provided thoughts of candidate qualifications needed for the position.
Earl has since communicated with candidates and has at least two to present to the board hopefully by Friday, July 21, he said.
The candidates Earl contacted are currently retired, he said, adding that they are local to the Chicago area. He estimated that the interim candidate would likely serve in the position for six to nine months. The village’s search for a permanent village manager would then begin shortly after an interim appointment is made.
Resident Amanda Alpert Knight addressed the board during the public comment portion of the committee of the whole meeting and called for a transparent process for hiring both the interim and permanent village manager. She also called for Lungmus recusing himself from the process all together.
“Since the board president has chosen to remain in office despite numerous calls for his resignation, he should at least turn the powers of the hiring process, interim or permanent, over the other trustees such as trustees Galin, Fowler or Mendrek,” she said.
“It is not in the best interest of the community for the current president to lead the process.”
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.