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Bloomington Restructuring Paves Way For New Public Works Director

public works trucks parked at garage
Jeff Smudde
Kevin Kothe becomes Bloomington's public works director on Feb. 2

The city of Bloomington has named a new public works director and created a new position that officials say won't cost the city more money.

City engineer Kevin Kothe takes over public works next week, while current director Jim Karch becomes the city’s special projects manager.

City manager Tim Gleason said he made the move partly to keep Kothe on staff. He had put in for retirement.

“In the 18 months that I’ve been here, I’ve heard nothing but great things about Kevin, knew that he had 30-plus years with the department,” Gleason said. “It was just a combination of many things that I saw a great opportunity with this.”

Kothe has worked for the city of 32 years and as city engineer since 2009.

“I look forward to this role and all of the opportunities it will bring,” says Kothe. “It has been an honor to serve my hometown of Bloomington for 32 years already, and certainly an honor to have been selected for this new role going forward.”

Jim Karch
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Jim Karch becomes Bloomington's new special projects manager on Feb. 2.

Had he retired, Kothe would have been eligible for sick leave buy back. The city is ending that benefit at the end of April for non-union employees, citing rising costs in recent years due to pension spiking. The city has been working to remove the benefit from new labor agreements.

Gleason said the new position Karch fills will assist with a variety of tasks across multiple departments, including things like annexation agreements, oversight of entertainment venues and reviewing engineering projects.

“The idea emerged from our budget discussions where we saw an opportunity to use someone like a Jim Karch in this new role,” Gleason said.

Gleason added the city will absorb another position through a retirement to fill the new vacancy in the engineering department.

Kothe will see his pay increase from $120,763 to $144,745. Karch’s pay is being reduced from $144, 745 to $115,000.

Both changes take effect Sunday. The city plans to formally introduce Kothe as its new public works director at its Feb. 10 city council meeting.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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