Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel got an early Christmas present on Dec. 21 when the village board voted unanimously to give him a new multi-year deal along with a modest pay raise.
According to the terms of the deal, Weitzel will remain chief until April 30, 2013 and will be paid $119,670 for the first year of the deal. That represents a 2-percent increase over his previous deal, which expired at the end of April 2009.
The increase, according to Village Manager Peter Scalera, represented a merit increase since there were no cost-of-living pay increases budgeted in 2009.
“Honestly, for the amount of work he puts in, it’s a very nominal increase,” said Scalera.
Weitzel officially took the reins of the department in January 2008 upon the retirement of Chief Eugene Karczewski. However, Weitzel had served as acting chief since October 2007.
A 25-year veteran of the Riverside Police Department, Weitzel said he sought out the multiyear deal, which expires in conjunction with the village presidential election of 2013. When the contract expires, he’ll be within a year of his 30th anniversary with the department, when he can retire with a full pension.
“I made it clear to the village president, the board and Peter that I wanted to stay here and serve the village,” Weitzel said. “I love working here; I love this village. We have a very open and transparent police department, and we have good employees.
“I’m thankful to the board for their vote of confidence.”
Weitzel said that the new contract will allow him to focus on long-term planning, especially as it relates to retaining officers and maintaining opportunities for professional development for them.
“For employees in a department of our size [professional development] is very important because they want to excel,” Weitzel said. “Promotions are slow to come, but we need to develop employees so they are ready to go.”
Scalera said that in the months prior to his appointment as village manager and in the two-and-a-half months since taking the job, he’s been impressed by Weitzel’s professionalism.
“I’ve been impressed with his work ethic and his knowledge of the job,” Scalera said.
Other benefits outlined in the contract include health insurance coverage, the use of a village vehicle, a $1,000-per-year civilian clothing allotment in addition to uniforms, 25 paid vacation days and six personal days.
The village pays 87.5 percent of health insurance premiums for both individual and family coverage, said Finance Director Kevin Wachtel. The total individual premium (including the employee’s portion) per month is $440. Family coverage is $1,300 per month.
Weitzel’s contract is the result of an evaluation of village department heads being undertaken by Scalera. Fire Chief Kevin Mulligan, who has been working without a contract since April 2008, is expected to have a new contract offer extended to him in late February or early March, Scalera said.
“We’re going to be evaluating all of the department heads,” Scalera said. “We’ll look at each person and determine whether they are the right fit for the village. But in the two-and-a-half months I’ve been here, I have not seen anything that leads me to believe we have individuals in place we couldn’t go forward with.”