Tim Gleason from Decatur has been named Bloomington’s next city manager.
Gleason, 53, is currently the city manager in Decatur, where he’s worked for four years. He previously served as the city manager in Washington, Illinois, including when a tornado destroyed a large part of the community in 2013.
Gleason’s hiring was announced Monday at Bloomington City Hall.
"It speaks to the strengths of our community and the opportunities that exist here that the City of Bloomington received the high caliber of applicants for the city manager position that we did," Mayor Tari Renner said. "(Gleason) is poised and ready to bring the depth of his ability and experience to capitalize on our community's opportunities and navigate our challenges."
The Bloomington City Council will vote on Gleason's contract June 25. His first day on the job would be July 23. He'll make $185,000 annually.
Gleason, a U.S. Army veteran, spent more than 20 years in law enforcement and later served as a deputy director in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He was also CEO of Illinois Correctional Industries.
He beat out 30 other applicants from 15 states and two other finalists: Washington City Administrator Jim Culotta and Bloomington Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen. Rasmussen has been interim city manager since November when David Hales left Bloomington for the top job in Joliet.
Renner said Gleason has spent time on the ground as a street-level bureaucrat.
"Often those are the people who are the best leaders and best managers," said Renner.
Renner expressed appreciation to Steve Rasmussen for service as the interim city manager. Renner said that has not been an easy job and came at a difficult time.
"He skillfully guided us through a very challenging budget year and kept up the momentum on many different projects including the downtown. He will continue to be a valuable member of the Bloomington team," said Renner.
Gleason said during a public meet and greet last week that he would retain Rasmussen as an assistant if he won the city manager position.
"I think elected officials saw something in this pairing between Steve and I. I think that we're going to be a great team," said Gleason.
The budget-cutting crunch is expected to be a multiyear exercise. Gleason said he has experience in that process in Decatur, and it is just one of the things Illinois municipalities have to do—find their way through that challenge.
He also said he would adopt an entrepreneurial mindset about the delivery of services to the public.
"We have to look within first before we place that expectation of increased taxes or that burden on the shoulders of the residents," said Gleason.
Politics and City Management
The city manager position is a non-political job but it is not a non-political environment. But Gleason said it is an easy task to stay clear of politics while helping the council come to a consensus.
"Really, learning what the true visions of the elected officials are, you are going to find that there are several common themes. That makes it much easier for me to receive my marching orders and satisfy those for the elected officials," said Gleason.
He said there is also a role for a city manager to play in smoothing over disagreements, and helping council members move on to other issues, once a policy has been set. He said if that conversation is allowed, a city manager can help do those things.
Gleason said he looks forward to getting the city where it needs to be.
"I'm excited. This is a huge opportunity for me. There's a long way to go to get to know the elected officials even better," said Gleason.
Gleason said he will be looking to city officials for priorities and for quick victories.
"Sometimes the new guy can have some opportunities to do things that were unable to be completed in the past," said Gleason.
Gleason said he was satisfied in Decatur and had not been looking for a new post. But he said Bloomington is a large community, with a healthy economy and he had to go for it.
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