The Human Resources Committee held a meeting on April 2nd which I attended.
The reason was the following agenda item:
Discussion on Establishing Elected Officials’ Salaries
During public comment time, former Board member Kathy Bergan-Schmidt encouraged members to “drop the reimbursement for mileage.
“This is a perk that doesn’t belong in a budget today.”
She pointed out that only John Jung, who lives in Bull Valley and who chairs the committee, did not take this form of compensation.
The salary consideration was at the bottom of the agenda.
That’s where I started taking notes.
County Administrator Peter Austin came to the table “to remind the committee…on timing this committee has used in the past.
“Salaries would be set in the year prior to [to when people take office]…prior to making a decision on whether to pass petitions,” he added.
“That’s an issue that’s going to start with this committee.
“My suggestion is that you allow staff to do some of the legwork for you,” Austin continued, referring to doing a study to see what salaries are paid in other counties.
“I’d love to do that for you…and offer you suggestions.”
“I like that idea,” Wonder Lake’s Sue Draffkorn said.
“It’s always nice to have comps,” Committee Chairman John Jung interjected.
Austin suggested that decisions should be made by the end of September or October.
Candidates for the March, 2016, primary election can begin passing petitions in September.
Hartland Township’s Diane Evertsen was not encouraging.
“I’m sure you and I will have different opinions on this.
“My people don’t live in Lake County and don’t care [want officials there earn].
“[They say,] I’m the employer.
“How does it happen that the employee is making more than the employer?”
Evertsen clearly did not want salaries raised.
“We have population flight from McHenry County.
“Just keep giving our electives more money, just watch the flight continue.
“Holy cow! I’m going to make more than the others.
“If they do, they [potential canddiates] should look for another hobby.”
“Your comments don’t surprise me,” Austin replied.
“Frankly, I don’t see our Recorder walking out the door to run to DuPage County,” Evertsen observed.
Cary’s Yvonne Barnes was next to speak.
“Two years ago the Human Resources Committee did decide not to pursue that [comparing salaries with other counties].
“I don’t see…a strong push to [do it now].
“I’m still in that category.”
“Who initiated this [agenda item]?” Crystal Lake’s Donna Kurtz asked.
“Me,” replied Austin.
“I don’t want any study to be done.
“Why are you always increasing things.
“The taxpayers are absolutely not going to accept any electeds’ salary increases.
“We have fewer taxpayers.
“I’m not interested in a comparison salary survey.
“My position is ‘No.’
“We’re not increasing any salaries.”
“I’m not going to advocate,” Austin said.
Nunda Township’s Don Kopsell pointed out that “elected positions are not competitive.
“If someone says, ‘This is only paying X amount of money, [so I won’t run. Let them].
“In the case of elected officials, service to the public should be driving the process.”
Barnes did say that the salary of the new County Board Chairman, to be elected at-large needed to be considered.
“Since that was Jack Franks’ idea, maybe we can have a state stipend,” Jung suggested.
He explained how increasing salaries of more than $100,000 a year keeps multiplying when there are annual hikes.
“$15,000 in four years.
“We finally decided, ‘Let’s stop giving them raises anymore.'”
Jung did suggest that “the elected officials may come in with some information.”
Evertsen looked at Austin and observed,
“Just saved you some work.”
“He needed direction and I think he has it,” Jung added.
“Oh, it’s clear now,” Austin concluded.