Keith Sbiral, who has served as Brookfield’s village manager since 2014, is out after agreeing to resign his post, effective March 15.
Village President Kit Ketchmark confirmed Sbiral’s departure from the job, quoting from a statement the village intends to release soon.
“Given the board’s vision for the village’s future, along with recent and future retirements, Keith and I have decided that now is the right time for him to resign from his role as village manager,” Ketchmark said during a phone interview with the Landmark on Sunday.
Ketchmark declined to comment specifically on the reasons behind the mutual decision to part company. The press release also states that the move came after discussions Ketchmark and Sbiral have had about the village’s past accomplishments and future goals since the beginning of 2018.
On March 26, the Brookfield Village Board is expected to approve a separation agreement with Sbiral, who makes $154,500 annually and last year had his contract extended through May 2021.
The village board on that date is also expected to hire an “interim consultant,” who will manage staff at village hall while top officials search for Sbiral’s replacement.
Ketchmark said they’ll likely employ a search firm to help identify Brookfield’s next village manager, though that decision hasn’t been finalized. The interim consultant, said Ketchmark, will “help us in transition, help in the hire of the manager, and bring structure to personnel.”
The goal of a change in management, said Ketchmark, is Brookfield’s future success.
“What we’ve learned with a lot of this is that we have good employees,” Ketchmark said. “We have to give them what they need to succeed. It all comes down to Brookfield succeeding.”
Sbiral’s resignation comes following a turbulent 2017 inside village hall and amid signs of continuing disenchantment among staff.
March 16 was also supposed to have marked the resignation of the village’s longtime human resources director, Michelle Robbins. Ketchmark confirmed that Robbins had submitted her letter of resignation, effective Friday, March 16.
According to Ketchmark, following Sbiral’s resignation, he asked Robbins to remain in her capacity as human resources director and she agreed. Robbins did not immediately respond to an email from the Landmark seeking comment.
Ketchmark also announced that Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi has agreed to stay in his position a bit longer than he had planned, following Sbiral’s departure.
Lenzi, said Ketchmark, was to have retired effective April 6, but he has agreed to remain on board until the end of April with the hope that his successor can be named prior to his departure.
“There had been no specific plan for [Lenzi’s] replacement, so we’ve started working on that,” Ketchmark said. “We plan on looking internally. There are a lot of good people there.”
Sbiral ended up at the center of a couple of controversial matters last year, including a simmering labor dispute within the Brookfield Public Works Department that exploded during the spring village election campaign and resulted in the termination of Public Works Director Kenneth Blaauw.
The village’s administration was also embarrassed last summer when the entire Brookfield Fire and Police Commission resigned over the process for promoting a fire captain.
Commissioners complained they had been disrespected and marginalized in recent years, by Sbiral in particular. Sbiral responded by saying the commissioners hadn’t communicated any shortcomings to him, and he demanded a written apology from the commission’s former chairwoman.
On March 15, longtime Brookfield Recreation Program Coordinator Mary Pezdek retired, leaving that department short-staffed and without a specific plan for the future. The department is now staffed by one part-time employee who has agreed to take on more responsibility in the short term.
Ketchmark said he wants to see greater focus on the recreation department in the future.
“I’d like to see it more at the level of when [former Recreation Director] Cathy Edwards was here, when recreation got the focus it deserved,” Ketchmark said. “It didn’t seem like we were leading that way.”
Sbiral was not available for comment and did not respond immediately to an email sent Sunday by the Landmark.
On March 17, Sbiral and his wife, who operate a business called Complete Cuba, departed from Miami to lead a tour of the island nation. The company has been offering guided tours of Cuba since 2015.
Ketchmark declined to answer when asked about how any of Sbiral’s outside business ventures may have played into the agreement on his resignation.
In addition to the tour company, Sbiral and his wife in 2016 founded a consulting firm called Apochromatik, which offers executive coaching and organizational management training.
Apochromatik’s website states the company works “with clients across the United States and Europe.”
Amy Gardner, who is Sbiral’s wife, is listed as the president of the consulting company, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. Both Sbiral and Gardner are listed as co-managers of Complete Cuba.
Sbiral has held roles inside Brookfield Village Hall since 2006, when he was hired to be assistant village manager.
He wore multiple hats throughout the years, dealing at one time or another with everything from finance to information technology to urban planning and running the building department.
He comprehensively reorganized village hall after becoming manager in 2014, creating a new Department of Community and Economic Development and cross-training employees to improve customer service at the front desk.
He also championed a zoning modernization effort that led to the adoption of a form-based zoning code for areas near the village’s commuter rail stations and was a key staff member in the creation of Brookfield’s three TIF districts.