SAUK VILLAGE | Police Chief Robert Fox, who was chosen by Village President Lewis Towers to run both the Police and Fire departments, signed an agreement Friday that says he will decline the dual appointment.
The agreement effectively ends Fox's tenure with the village as of Thursday, when Fire Chief Alan Stoffregen takes over command of both the Fire and Police departments, according to Village Attorney Michael McGrath.
The agreement was negotiated between Fox and attorneys from Odelson & Sterk, the Evergreen Park-based law firm that represents village government even though Towers has tried in recent weeks to fire them.
The matter of leadership for the Police and Fire departments in Sauk Village was to have been the subject of a court hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon before Cook County Judge Mary Mikva. Trustees who oppose Towers wanted an injunction that would have prevented the village president from making the appointment.
But the hearing was canceled about two hours prior to it beginning when the settlement was reached with Fox. The settlement came so suddenly that Towers was unaware of it when contacted by The Times, saying he was already on a downtown Chicago-bound commuter train headed for the Daley Center courthouse.
In a memo to village officials, McGrath wrote that Fox is, “declining because he does not have the qualifications necessary to run the fire department.”
Village Clerk Debbie Williams said Towers was among the officials who received the memorandum via email along with everyone else.
“He was notified,” she said, while clerks with Odelson & Sterk said they attempted to reach Towers via telephone.
The settlement would negate the measure Towers tried to impose this week as a response to a previous action by the Village Board to eliminate Fox's position and give Stoffregen control of both departments.
Towers’ response to the Friday settlement was to issue an order saying once again that he wants to dismiss Odelson & Sterk as village attorney, although McGrath said he was confident trustees would refuse to confirm that order.
“We’re still the village attorney,” McGrath said.
According to McGrath’s memorandum, Stoffregen will take over both the Police and Fire departments effective Thursday, which is the beginning of the new fiscal year for Sauk Village municipal government.
Earlier this year, trustees tried to dismiss Fox, and Towers ultimately got a court order giving him the authority to appoint Fox to the post.
Trustees have said they wanted to eliminate the police chief's salary because of the village’s weak financial situation. They said it is impossible to pay a police chief’s salary of about $75,000 in addition to Stoffregen’s salary of about $72,000.
Towers, who wanted Fox to run the Police and Fire departments with Stoffregen as a deputy chief, said he did not believe Stoffregen was qualified to oversee a police department.
But Fox’s position was not helped by “no confidence” letters sent earlier this week from both the Fire and Police departments.
Neither Fox nor Stoffregen were available Friday to comment about the settlement.