Photo by Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn Village Manager William “Randy” Palmer spoke at a recent Village Board meeting.
By Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn officially has a new village manager, but he is definitely not new to the community.
William “Randy” Palmer, who has been serving as interim acting village manager since last November, was officially hired as village manager of Oak Lawn when the Village Board approved a new agreement with him during the Aug. 11 meeting. Palmer, 55, lives in Oak Lawn and had been serving as police chief as well from 2017 until July 31, when he retired after a nearly 30-year career with the department.
He was appointed to the village manager role on an interim basis when Larry Deetjen retired abruptly, after being charged with driving offenses following a hit-and-run incident last October in Chicago Ridge in which a pedestrian was badly injured at 101 st and Harlem Avenue.
The Village Board unanimously approved a new agreement with Palmer as village manager without comment on Aug. 11, as one of many items voted on together in the consent agenda. That meeting was more focused on the swearing in of his successor, Daniel Vittorio, as police chief, and Zackary Riddle as fire chief.
According to the new agreement, which began Aug. 1 and runs through July 31, 2022, Palmer will have an annual salary of $185,000. He will be eligible for performance-based merit increases during the term of the agreement at the discretion of the mayor and board of trustees, and the village will provide $18,593.50 in deferred compensation. His medical insurance is already covered through his retirement agreement with the police department, and that will not change.
Deetjen’s annual salary was just over $187,000.
“ I am truly honored to be chosen to continue on in the Village Manager position. My goal is to keep the village of Oak Lawn moving in a positive direction and maintain the high standards of service to the community all Oak Lawn residents deserve and expect,” said Palmer, when asked for comment on his new title this week.
“ I am lucky to have a great management team around me who understand safety and quality of life issues are at the forefront of everything we strive to accomplish. It is truly humbling to me the Board of Trustees and Mayor have allowed me this wonderful opportunity, to be able to continue to utilize the institutional knowledge I have obtained over the 28-plus years I have worked in this amazing community, to keep Oak Lawn one of the top communities in the Chicago metro area.”
“ The decision to hire him was an easy one,” said Mayor Sandra Bury. “We need a (full-time) village manager. I think for Randy to act as both police chief and village manager was difficult.”
“ He has the institutional knowledge of the village and has served in an exemplary way. His intellectual capacity is phenomenal and he will move the board’s vision for the village forward,” said the mayor.
“ We have a lot of projects and the Village Board really has stepped up (during this difficult time),” said Bury, singling out Trustee Tom Phelan (6th ), a financial adviser, for helping to ensure that everything remains on track, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else going on..
“ But in our manager-council form of government, the mayor is a figurehead. The village manager is the person in charge, and we need someone with (Palmer’s) calm temperament demeanor to get all the departments working together. He also has a passion for our community. I can’t tell you what peace of mind he has given me knowing he is in charge.”
Bury noted that the village has already begun interviewing for an assistant village manager, a position that other manager-council communities such as Orland Park already have.
“Having an assistant village manager will round out the board. We are trying to cut costs where we can, but this position is needed,” said Bury.