Although Purcellville’s newest town manager has settled into his $150,000-a-year job, he is asking the town for a bit of financial relief.
Town Manager David Mekarski, the former village manager of Olympia Fields, IL, started on the job April 16 and officially moved to town last month. However, his home in Illinois has yet to sell. According to Mekarski, paying the mortgage on that house and rent for his Purcellville home are exceeding 90 percent of his net take home pay, leaving him with only $540 each month for “all associated expenses beyond housing and utilities.” He has requested the Town Council consider amending his employment contract to either extend the time he receives reimbursement for transition expenses beyond six months or to increase the amount he receives to more than $1,000.
Under the current terms of the contract, the town is required to pay Mekarski $1,000 per month for up to six months or until his house in Illinois sells. That clause also gives the Town Council some leeway to vote on changes if Mekarski demonstrates a hardship. The town has already reimbursed Mekarski $3,733 for his May to July portion of these expenses. The payments are slated to end in October.
Mekarski said it’s likely that his Illinois home will be on the market until at least October, after a sales contract recently fell through when the buyer’s loan was declined. Now that Mekarski has moved all of his furnishings to Purcellville, he’s worried that his empty Illinois house is not staged correctly for a home sale. “It’s probably going to be a little more difficult to market,” he said.
Councilman Tip Stinnette said that Mekarski’s request concerned him because the town would be paying more than what the original contract allowed for and the town has not renegotiated a contract for moving expenses in the past.
“Generally, you don’t renegotiate a contract three months after you’ve entered into it, especially for the moving expenses,” he said. “That tells me that one or both of the parties were deficient in terms of doing their due diligence.”
Stinnette also noted that Mekarski’s request takes the town’s focus away from contractually reimbursing him for his moving expenses and redirects it to finding ways that would provide Mekarski with financial relief. “I want to make sure that everybody on the council understands the nuance of Dave’s strategy shift,” he said.
Councilman Nedim Ogelman echoed Stinnette’s comments. “We have a contract and an agreement and we need to make sure that everything that’s decided with this is decided openly, transparently,” he said.
According to Finance Director Elizabeth Krens, the town has already reimbursed Mekarski $10,000 for moving expenses, under the terms of the contract. This includes expenses associated with packing, moving, storage, unpacking and any insurance charges. Mekarski detailed moving costs totaling $13,548, but he is not asking the town to consider reimbursing him this additional $3,548.
Town Attorney Sally Hankins will discuss with Mekarski the possibility of amending the transition expenses clause of his contract. Once that happens, Stinnette said he would prepare a package with three courses of action for the Town Council to vote on at its July 24 meeting—to do nothing, to extend the transition expense reimbursement time period, or to increase the amount.
“We just need to take this into consideration and work with [Krens] and [Mekarski] to see where we can take this … if it’s wise for us to move forward and grant this modification,” said Mayor Kwasi Fraser.