Janesville56.4°

Administrator, chief decisions still on hold in Darien

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 18, 2010
— It's been 17 months since the village of Darien has had a working police chief.

But neither the board nor village residents seem rushed to fill the position.


The board will meet Monday in closed session with up to five consultants who want the job of hiring a new chief for the village.


The consultant also could work to fill the empty administrator position. Former Administrator Marc Dennison resigned at the end of April.


The board has not decided if will hire a clerk or an administrator to replace Dennison.


The short discussion about the process to replace Dennison and former Police Chief Steve DeVoy was part of a record 48-minute board meeting. That's the shortest meeting for the board since Evelyn Etten was elected president in April 2009, she said.


And it was one of the quietest and most lightly attended meetings since December 2008, when the village suspended DeVoy without pay.


Just a month ago, residents packed the village hall and applauded when the village board voted against hiring the Walworth County Sheriff's Office to patrol the village. The board considered contracting with the sheriff to get out of the police management business after a long legal battle with DeVoy.


The board voted in early 2009 to fire DeVoy, but his attorney argued that Wisconsin law requires police chiefs get a hearing before they are fired. The board agreed to a hearing, which was rescheduled several times before DeVoy and the village settled in November.


The village agreed to pay DeVoy $30,000 plus paid leave for six months on top of the 11 months he was paid while suspended and $35,000 for accrued holiday, vacation and sick time.


The six months ends this month.


Board member Bob Wenzel on Monday said the village might be better off hiring an administrator before hiring a police chief.


Etten said one consultant could help fill both positions. But the board first must decide whether it wants an administrator or a clerk and must have a clear picture of the duties of all village office employees.


Currently, the structure includes a deputy clerk/treasurer and a part-time administrative assistant. The board in April appointed Public Works Director Greg Epping interim administrator.


Epping said he and the staff are managing to cover the workload. But in the long term, a person with clerking capabilities is going to be needed to keep the office afloat, he said.


"If you're looking at hiring a service, this could go on for three or four months," Epping said.


"I don't know if (Deputy Clerk/Treasurer) Dean (Abel) or I will go on that long."



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