The Village of Northfield has a lot to figure out, and it appears it will have to do so without longtime Village leader Stacy Sigman.
The village manager’s retirement “takes effect July 15,” according to an email Sigman allegedly sent to Village staff members and officials on Friday, June 30. Sigman, who became Northfield’s village manager in 1998, did not return The Record’s messages; however, multiple sources sent the subject email to The Record for review.
In the message, Sigman’s retirement is discussed in the fourth brief of a bulleted list of items under the heading “Week in Review.” The brief says the Village Board is aware of her retirement and her “last day in the office” is July 14.
An email reportedly sent by Northfield Village Manager Stacy Sigman that announces her retirement.
Northfield Trustee Tracey Mendrek confirmed to The Record that she received Sigman’s email. She said the board was expecting Sigman’s retirement in 2025, when her contract expired, but amid the turmoil facing Sigman and the Village government, Sigman’s announcement did not surprise Mendrek.
“This is certainly not what I want and certainly what I’ve been working months to avoid,” Mendrek said. “I don’t know if there’s any possibility of asking her to change her mind at this point, but I hold out hope that for the good of the village of Northfield, and for all the wonderful things she’s done throughout her career, that we can change her mind.”
News of Sigman’s pending retirement was delivered in the wake of a tense Village Board meeting on June 26, when an attorney revealed that by filing constructive discharge paperwork in May Sigman accused the board of interfering with her duties as village manager
Also in May, according to Trustee Barnaby Dinges, three trustees were threatened with litigation after criticizing Sigman’s behavior, as well as that of Village President Greg Lungmus, to village attorney Buzz Hill.
Via a public-records request, The Record obtained the cease-and-desist letters — one each served to Dinges, Trustee Charles Orth and Trustee Tom Whittaker. On behalf of Sigman and Lungmus, the letters claim each trustee engaged in “the deliberate and malicious dissemination of false and defamatory information about (Lungmus and Sigman), including fabricated rumors designed to cause them reputational harm in both their personal and professional lives.”
At the meeting on June 26, the board’s attorney said the three trustees deny the allegations laid out in the letters, which go on to say Lungmus and Sigman will pursue legal action if “the false statements” continue.
From Dinges’ statement to public comment primarily in support of the village manager, the June 26 public meeting centered on Sigman, who was not in attendance.
“I don’t know what it must be like to walk in Stacy’s shoes after that,” Mendrek said. “To be publicly humiliated and still come to work and show up is almost beyond me.
“There is certainly some internal strife within this board. … I thought it was something we could work on and overcome. The latest turn of events makes me wonder if that is possible.”
Prior to and after the board meeting, Sigman told The Record she could not comment on the situation.
She said she was bound by the following language in her contract, which references her and the Village Board of Trustees:
”Neither party shall make any public statement, issue any press release, or make any other communication intended to reach the general public which disparages, assigns fault to, or calls into question the good faith or good will of the other party.”
Lungmus and other trustees either did not return messages from The Record or declined to comment on this story. Village counsel Mallory Milluzzi also did not immediately return a call from The Record.
Sigman’s “Week in Review” email also announces the resignation of Holly Fabbri, an executive assistant in the Village’s administration department. Fabbri’s last day is July 13, the email says, and Director of Administrative Services Melissa Jewett is on maternity leave until Aug. 25.
Sigman, Jewett and Fabbri are the only individuals listed on the village’s website as employees of the administration department, and Sigman wrote in her email: “Unfortunately … there will be no staff in the manager’s office after July 15.”
Sigman was hired as Northfield’s village manager about 25 years ago in 1998. Today, she oversees a $13.52 million expenditure budget (2023-’24) for a town of about 5,700 residents, according to U.S. census data.
Mendrek praised Sigman’s job performance and believes the village is better off with her in place.
“We have until July 14, which is the day Stacy indicated she’d like to retire,” she said. “Hopefully, we can continue to work in good faith toward a solution that keeps Stacy involved in our community.”
The next regular meeting of the Village Board of Trustees is Tuesday, July 18.
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