Adam Sayre is now the permanent administrator for the City of Verona more than six months after taking over as the city’s highest-ranking employee on an interim basis.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 27, the 38 year old former planning and development director is being paid $126,394, a more than $40,000 annual raise from his previous position and a roughly $10,000 annual increase from his interim pay. Alders approved the contract unanimously after a 25-minute closed session Monday, and Sayre signed it after the meeting.
“He’s a good guy, and he’s easy to work with,” Ald. Chad Kemp (Dist. 1) said before the vote. “I know he’s going to do a good job for the city.”
Two weeks earlier, the city had ruled out its final candidate from the first round of interviews, which were held in late April and early May. Mayor Luke Diaz announced Monday those interviews had included Sayre before he withdrew.
Sayre confirmed that separately Monday, telling the Press he’d had concerns with work-life balance as a father of three young children.
But over the summer, as the search dragged on, he indicated to human resources coordinator Mitchell Weckerly, who was leading it, that if the city didn’t have a better option, he would be willing to consider taking the job permanently.
“Big picture wise, I never saw myself doing this at this time in my life, but I took time to think more about it and get more comfortable with it,” he said.
The job got easier as he got used to it. And his wife, Nicki, a music teacher at two elementary schools in Verona, has cut back on her extracurricular work schedule and is no longer teaching piano lessons, making the extra hours easier to bear for now.
“I’ve got a great wife and three great kids,” he said.
Still, it’s been difficult working every weekend.
“That’s going to get better once I start losing some of these multiple hats,” he said.
As of Monday night, the city had not discussed plans for filling his planning role, but assistant planner Katharine Holt has taken on extra duties over the past several months.
Sayre came to Verona in February 2013, succeeding Bruce Sylvester. Prior to that, he had spent six years as a planner at Oconomowoc. He beat out the other finalists based on his well-rounded experience and his interpersonal skills, administrator Bill Burns said at the time.
Communication, meanwhile, was one of the knocks on Jeff Mikorski, whom the council asked to resign in February after 2 ½ years as the administrator.
While Mikorski’s severance paid him for six months, the contract with Sayre only provides for two months, a point Diaz said he and Sayre agreed on early. Instead, it provides for 12 months of health insurance should the city ever cut ties.
Sayre said his schedule remains full of large projects – not the least of which are hiring a new senior center director, fire chief and planning and development director. And of course, it’s budget season, which means lots of extra meetings, including negotiations with the police and fire unions.
Asked how he might make the job more family-friendly, Sayre said he has ideas for eventually reducing the number of direct reports he has through restructuring.
After Sayre withdrew from the process in May, elected officials narrowed the initial group to three, who then interviewed again with elected officials, as well as with staff May 20-21.
The city then conducted background checks, a process that dragged into August. In the meantime, two of the finalists found other jobs, and Aug. 12, the council decided not to hire the identified top candidate, Brian Wilson of Belleville.
At that meeting, Mayor Luke Diaz announced after the vote, the council authorized him to see whether Sayre would take the job. Diaz hadn’t asked before that in an official capacity, but he had probed earlier in the summer whether Sayre might be more amenable to the promotion.
On Aug. 19, Diaz and Personnel committee chair Sarah Gaskell asked him whether he would consider taking the job. They and Weckerly interviewed him again and had a background check performed over the next week, Diaz said in a prepared statement after the vote.
“Despite pulling double duty as the city administrator and city planner, he’s worked through a variety of tasks,” he said. “To put it simply, he gets stuff done.”