Rantoul mayor standing by termination of administrator
RANTOUL — Mayor Chuck Smith has decided to stick with his decision to terminate the contract of Rantoul Village Administrator Bruce Sandahl.
In a statement issued to The Rantoul Press on Monday, the mayor said his move to annul Sandahl's contract on Feb. 28 "was the result of careful deliberation, and contrary to the belief of several, it was executed in a professional and respectful manner."
Smith continued: "Of particular importance is my sincere belief that this decision will best support the tenets of my campaign, which includes creating an atmosphere of cooperation and a positive image of Rantoul with the ultimate goal being community cohesion and economic development. Therefore, with complete confidence I can say I will not rescind my decision."
Smith's decision to dismiss Sandahl drew the ire of many in the community. At least 10 people who spoke last week during a study session of the Rantoul village board urged the mayor to reconsider his decision in light of the contributions Sandahl has made to the community — primarily in the area of economic development.
Smith reiterated Monday that he was unable to go into detail of why Sandahl's contract was ended, citing a personnel policy that "protects the confidentiality of its employees."
The mayor said he took action after meeting a day earlier with five of the six trustees on the village board. At the time, he said he believed he had the trustees' support. Trustee Jennifer Fox was unable to meet with Sandahl and at the study session said she did not support the action to terminate Sandahl's contract.
Smith told the Press on Friday that he had heard opinions from about 45 people, about 70 percent of whom backed his decision.
On Monday, Smith said he had provided several venues for the public to express their opinions on the matter, including appointments in his office, the public forum at the study session and phone calls.
"Public opinion regarding my decision has varied from support of my decision, to shock, disbelief and outright disagreement," the mayor said. "... I have listened to your comments."
Sandahl signed a five-year contract in 2011. He was initially hired in 2008. Because he was fired without cause, Sandahl is due to receive half his annual salary of $157,196.
Smith and Comptroller Scot Brandon are acting as temporary co-village administrators until a new administrator is hired. Smith said Brandon will be in charge of the financial end of village business, while village attorney Ken Beth will represent the village regarding economic development contracts with the Air Force and the conveyance of the Air Force property to the village.
Beth's fee will be covered by an Air Force grant, Smith said.
For more on the Bruce Sandahl saga, including text of the mayor's full statement Monday, head to the website of The Rantoul Press, a News-Gazette Community Newspaper.