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Normal fills communications post that was subject of controversy last year

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Cathy Oloffson (Town of Normal photo)

NORMAL (WEEK) - The Town of Normal has filled a communications job carrying a salary of $97,400 that was controversial well before the COVID-19 pandemic strained government finances.

City Manager Pam Reece announced Friday that Cathy Oloffson was hired as the town's director of communications and community relations.

Oloffson was most recently vice president for Development at Easterseals Central Illinois, and previously worked in various capacities in the communications field at Country Financial.

Although a news release said Oloffson will have expanded duties, the communications position has not been filled since Dan Irvin retired two years ago,

Late last year, the town council voted to hold off on filling the position to provide modest property tax relief, only to reverse that decision a few weeks later on a 4-3 vote.

Council member Kevin McCarthy said at the time the average homeowner would pay only about $6 more this year.

“The average taxpayer would have paid 50 cents a month to fund a communication director and better communication that we’ve all said we wanted, and we all said we supported, but we didn’t do that. Well, I’m going to ask that we give it another shot,” said McCarthy.

Voting against funding the position were council members Karyn Smith, Scott Preston, and Stan Nord. Smith at the time called the action a "bad faith" move.

Oloffson attended Illinois State University where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a master's degree in organizational communication. She has also served on Normal's Planning Commission.

“Normal is a vibrant, innovative community, and I am proud to call it home. I have lived here for more than 30 years and have been interested in local government since covering the Normal Town Council as a news reporter at Illinois State,” Oloffson said in a prepared statement.

“Her professional experience in communications, her passion for the community and her demonstrated commitment to positively impact residents’ lives will be a great asset to the municipality," said City Manager Reece.

Oloffson starts her new job August 24.

Howard Packowitz

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