WESTERN SPRINGS, IL — Western Springs’ attorney explained this week why the village appointed a number of officials without getting the Village Board’s approval, as required by the village code.

Attorney Michael Jurusik spoke during a board meeting Monday. His statement was in response to Patch stories about how the village has sworn in top officials in the village government without going to the board for approval. Patch found that the fire chief, deputy village manager and the last two directors of engineering did not get a board vote.

At the village president’s request, Jurusik said he would propose amendments to the code at a later meeting to update the appointment process.

He pointed to an old law that requires the board to approve the appointments of certain top officials, but he said the law is outdated in the case of Western Springs and other towns, which operate on a council-manager form of government. Under such a government, the village manager has the power to hire department heads, he said.

“The need to continue to designate and approve certain village employees as appointed officers really no longer exists because the Village Board already authorizes the village manager to hire those employees,” Jurusik said. “So for some of the appointed officers who are not statutory officers such as our director of information technology, this appointment process is really a form-over-substance process.”

As a result of the issue, the board on Monday approved the appointments of 17 top officials, including Jurusik himself. He advised this be done at the beginning of every village president’s term or when appointed officers are replaced.

Jurusik did not pinpoint the officials who were improperly hired. For instance, while the village hired the fire chief without the trustees’ approval earlier this year, it followed the code with the appointments of Police Chief Brian Budds and Village Manager Ingrid Velkme in 2017.

Last year, resident Scott Lewis was appointed by Village President Alice Gallagher as a trustee without a board vote. After Patch pointed this out, the trustees unanimously approved Lewis at their next meeting.

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