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UPDATED: Falls Village Manager Tops List of Highest Paid Administrators

Although Mark Fitzgerald was the highest paid public administrator in 2011, and the second highest paid in 2012, Falls Village Board members say he's worth every cent.

This article was updated at 5:22 p.m. Wednesday to reflect corrected information

If you had the choice to feed your family on Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s salary, or Menomonee Falls Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald’s salary, you may be inclined choose the former.

However, according to a database compiled and published by the Sheboygan Press, you may want to head to Wisconsin’s largest village rather than its largest city. The Sheboygan Press database includes public employee compensation from 2011 and 2012 for all 91 towns and villages in Wisconsin with populations of 10,000 or more.

The database includes salaries for mayors, city administrators or managers, police chiefs, and fire chiefs.

According to their data, Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald raked in a gross 2011 total income of $167,192, which made him the highest paid of all the employees in the database. In 2011, Fitzgerald earned a base pay of $149,692, logged $17,500 categorized as overtime or extra pay, and received $35,910 in benefits. In 2012, his base pay was listed as $151,000, which is second only to Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt.

According to the database, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, and four other top-level Milwaukee administrators earned a base pay of $147,336. Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinksi’s $114,982 base 2012 was also ranked sixth highest in the state. However, Ruzinski also become the village’s Director of Protective Services, which also encompasses the fire department. Fire Chief Jeffrey Hevey’s base salary was listed as $102,378 in 2012.

Every year, the Menomonee Falls Village Board sets the salary for its top administrators. They held firmly that Fitzgerald deserves to be among the top, if not the top, paid administrators in the state.

“I’m a strong believer in pay for play,” said Village Trustee Jame Jeskewitz. “If the person does the job they should be compensated for it. I’d be willing to bet there isn’t another community that has had the progress in development that we have”

Jeskewitz said Fitzgerald has worked tirelessly to bring significant developments to the Falls in a time when investment in other Wisconsin communities has been stagnant. In the past few years, Fitzgerald has helped forge deals that brought Actuant Corp., Eaton Corp., Woodman’s, and a Wacker-Neuson expansion to Falls among many.

However, Jeskewitz said Fitzgerald’s major accomplishment was a multi-million dollar deal to keep a new Kohl’s headquarters development in Menomonee Falls. The retail giant announced it would stay in Falls last year.

“He was negotiating for a long time to keep them,” Jeskewitz said. “If it wasn’t for him, Kohl’s wouldn’t have landed in our backyard.”

Jeskewitz also acknowledged that the Radisson Hotel development has been filled with its challenges, but commended Fitzgerald for implementing the necessary actions to safeguard the village and taxpayers from future liability associated with the hotel.

Trustee Jeff Steliga said Fitzgerald’s salary is somewhat deceiving, since he actually handles the workload of two positions. When former Community Development Director Bill Freisleben retired on the final day of 2009, Fitzgerald assumed the responsibilities of his position. Freisleben primarily focused on marketing the community, and working externally to forge deals with prospective developers.

Steliga said the board agreed to increase Fitzgerald’s salary by 25 percent of Freisleben’s to compensate the extra workload. He said Freisleben earned between $80,000 and $90,000. 

“Rather than have someone else fill that position Mark said he would take that responsibility,” Steliga said. “We looked at it as a cost-saving measure. While individually he’s expensive as a village manager, he’s doing the job of two.”

And cost saving has been a consistent theme in the corridors of Village Hall. For the past several years, the village has operated with a bare-bones budget. The village tax levy increased less than 1 percent in 2013. Over the past 6 years, staff levels have been reduced from 233 in 2007 to 180 in 2013. Fitzgerald said in October 2012 that staffing levels are at their trimmest levels, and any more cuts in the future could impact services for residents.

“We’ve got an excellent village manager, and we pay him accordingly,” said Trustee Dennis Farrell. “He’s done a good job and brought a great deal of professionalism to Village Hall.”

All seven Village Board members were contacted for comment Tuesday, but not all had not responded by 4 p.m.  

Correction: The original article posted indicated that Mr. Fitzgerald earned $17,500 in overtime pay. However, Fitzgerald is not eligible for overtime as he is a salaried employee. That amount would fall under the "extra pay" title in the database. 

Steve ® February 04, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Extra pay is defined as what? Taking over responsibilities of the guy that left?
Jean February 04, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Here's my comment... I have a family member on the Menomonee Falls Fire Department. With all the recent health insurance changes made for the department, I have a grand-daughter that cannot seek medical attention when it's really needed because one trip to the doctor costs them over $200, and they cannot afford it... I find it appalling that a long term fire fighters... who risks their life every day to protect and serve the Falls, is put in this position. I think it’s time to STOP and RETHINK where and how the money is spent.
W . Benz February 04, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Jean : Were ya been ?? How about the V-employees who were layoff and the future V- Employees who will be layoff down the road. Do you think spending all this money is about you and your family or about Fitz and his friends [ CABAL ] . Did you see how they [ CABAL ] circle the wagons on the Hotel and all the TIF spending and how about Millions to a CORP to build in G.T. Time for you people [ Jean ] to stand up and be heard otherwise just sit back and let the Good Old Boys [ CABAL ] run things because they know what best for you. Watch what Fitz does to the Cop's after they filed a lawsuit on the insurance issue this Guys does pay back in spades . This is MR.Fitz and his MO,,, just ask the taxpayers in Woodland Park CO ,,when a group filed against Fitz and his back room crap he did to them ::::: Look it up yourself....
Realtycheck February 05, 2013 at 04:31 AM
Fitzgerald is a pig. I cannot agree with you more. The high deductible insurance police & fire had to take w/no other options offered (unlike other jobs in the professional world), is a line of crap. Plus the disparity that new hires still have a zero deductible. Absolutely ridiculous. What message are they sending to their long term employees. I hear you.
W . Benz January 26, 2014 at 02:29 PM
Who's paid more than Gov Walker. ?? ----- King Fitz

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