Sue Scarpiniti is not officially slated to assume the role of interim village administrator in North Riverside until next week, but she’s already started making changes inside village hall.

Her first task has been to begin reshaping the village’s Community Development Department by hiring longtime municipal planner Robert Kallien on a part-time basis to perform an in-depth assessment of the department and make recommendations for its future structure.

Kallien, who retired in 2017 after a 40-year career as a municipal planner in places like Naperville and Oak Brook, came aboard officially in late January, said Scarpiniti. North Riverside last year had used Kallien’s services to produce a commercial area study to give local officials a clearer sense of existing conditions, describe commercial opportunities and recommend how the village can foster future redevelopment.

On the heels of that report, delivered to the village board last summer, North Riverside engaged Kallien to begin leading a comprehensive planning process, which should benefit from his presence inside village hall in his new role as interim village planner.

“[Kallien] is part of the transition plan,” said Scarpiniti in an interview in late February. “The village board directed staff to evaluate the function of the building department and to come up with an in-depth recommendation for how we were going to move the department forward.

“Mr. Kallien was hired on a contractual basis to help us with that assessment as well as act as the village’s planner until we’re able to transition to a more permanent resolution.”

Scarpiniti said Kallien is being paid $85 per hour and that the village has $10,000 left in its 2019-20 fiscal year budget, which ends April 30, to fund that position. The cost for Kallien’s services after that date will be included in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget, which is being formulated.

Karyn Byrne, who had been serving as the de facto head of the Community Development Department on a contract basis for the past decade, ended her employment with North Riverside on Dec. 31, 2019, said Scarpiniti.

Among the things Kallien will look at during his time as the village’s planner will be leading a comprehensive revision of the village’s zoning code and land-use plan.

“We’re also going to look at all of the procedures in the building department and the way we’ve been currently handling those to see what efficiencies and improvements can be made,” Scarpiniti said.

Kallien will also take a look at and assess future staffing levels in the Community Development Department and recommend whether or not North Riverside can support its operation on a contractual basis or whether the village should look to hire in-house staff.

North Riverside hasn’t had an on-staff building director since the retirement of David Skurkis in 2010.

“We anticipate that entire assessment is going to be about a year-long process,” Scarpiniti said.