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Lakewood terminates deputy village manager, to eliminate administrative positions

Sarah Nader –
Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka poses for a portrait April 8, 2015, at his Lakewood home.
Sarah Nader – Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka poses for a portrait April 8, 2015, at his Lakewood home.

LAKEWOOD – Lakewood terminated its deputy village manager, effective at 5 p.m. Thursday, in an effort to ensure objective communication between the Village Board and the administration.

Village President Paul Serwatka announced Thursday night in a news release that Shannon Andrews, who served as interim village manager between September and April, would no longer be a village employee. He clarified Friday afternoon that Andrews was terminated.

Serwatka said the village will eliminate the positions of village manager and deputy village manager as part of ongoing discussions about reorganizing the administrative structure of the village.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be a good move for the village,” Serwatka said. “We’ve been talking about this continued transformation of the village, and this is just one more step toward that transformation and to continue on with the reorganization of the administration.”

At its June 27 meeting, the Lakewood Village Board approved a consulting agreement with Lakewood-based consultant Heather Meister, who has since assisted in filling the village manager role and supporting administrative operations, according to Serwatka and village documents.

Serwatka said that Meister is assessing a new type of administration structure for Lakewood that shifts from “a top-heavy structure” and could result in eliminating or consolidating some head department positions. He added that Meister is likely to present her recommendation and options for restructuring to trustees this week.

Serwatka said the preference would be to install two managerial positions – one overseeing administration and another overseeing the financial department. Both positions would serve together as equals without answering to a village manager.

“We don’t want that one person to come in here and run the show with their own agenda,” Serwatka said. “We often felt as a board that we weren’t being presented with objective information. We often felt like the information was set in a certain light and made to look favorable one direction or another, whereas now there is no pressure other than to remain objective.”

Complementary to Meister’s assessment, Serwatka said trustees also approved an ordinance at their meeting Tuesday to amend the municipal code that gives trustees hiring and firing discretion over the village’s finance director instead of the village manager.

Trustees now have twice amended the code to strip authority from the village manager and give it to the village president with advice and consent from the trustees, which aligns with plans to eliminate the village manager position.

Lakewood trustees passed an amendment June 27 that returned authority over the police chief’s office to the village president and trustees, essentially reversing an amendment passed in 2014 that gave authority and discretion over the office to the village manager.

Andrews earned an annual salary of $106,635 and earned at least $10,000 in bonuses during her seven months as interim village manager, according to village records.

Serwatka said the changes were made in an effort to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency within the village.

“I think, overwhelmingly, residents have shown concerns in all three of those areas,” Serwatka said. “These changes keep a single person from being able to control the policy and gives it to the seven elected members of the board.”

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