Right before the scuttling of Jack Franks’ heavily-promoted plan by the Northwest Herald to cut McHenry County Board salaries by 10%, seven County Board members authored two op-ed pieces there.
Two in favor and five in opposition.
I asked all seven if I could re-publish what they wrote for non-NWH subscribers to read and all agreed.
Here is the piece supporting Franks’ proposal by Democrats Paula Yensen and Michael Vijuk:
Yensen, Vijuk: Supporting 10% pay cut, timesheets for McHenry County Board
We are gripped in a great national crisis that is testing our resolve as a people to be our best selves again.
This crisis demands that we do not only what is best for us, but what is right for our fellow neighbors and friends of the county.
Beyond the immediate tragedy of sickness and death, this pandemic has wounded our spirit, our security, and our sense of common purpose.
Many of our friends and neighbors are faced with losing their jobs.
Businesses will are on the brink of failure and schools are closed. This crisis is a testing of our nation’s spirit.
We as County Board members are doing our best to help ease the suffering of our community.
We not only feel your pain, we and believe we can lessen it, if just a little.
We believe that the next few years will be a time of for county government to carry on with “business as usual” at this time.
Your county government depends heavily on local taxes for its operating funds, and anything we can do to lessen that burden is simply the right thing to do.
That’s why we write today in support of two resolutions that are currently under review by the County Board.
The first would mandate a 10 percent across-the-board salary reduction for all elected eligible county officials whose salaries are controlled by the board.
The second would require County Board members and the Chairman to submit timesheets to document, their hours worked if they want to receive county supported health and dental insurance benefits.
We support these measures because we believe in transparency and accountability of county government.
The right way out of this pandemic is to work together To fail that test of resolve now would be a tragedy. As elected leaders we must lead by example.
A small pay cut for elected officials is not too much to bear.
Each and every effort large or small that we all do can help to preserve people’s jobs.
Gov. Pritzker has projected that the pandemic will cause our state a $2.7 billion shortfall this year and a $4.6 billion shortfall next year.
Our state struggles to fund a state-wide responses to the coronavirus or and provide financial assistance to county government.
Local agencies that provide direct assistance for seniors and veterans, mental health care, and many other essential services have their services threatened.
As County Board members, we believe that our service should reflect the community’s values.
We believe in shared sacrifice, charity, and simple decency. We hope that our fellow Board members will be encouraged to support the two County Board resolutions that will allow the county leadership to shoulder some of the burden of this crisis by reducing salaries and transparency in benefits.
To do less seems heartless.
This pandemic is far from over. The time is right to do what is right.
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Three Republicans (Caroyln Schofield, Pam Althoff and Lori Parish) and two Democrats (Suzanne Ness and Kelli Wegener) prepared the following:
5 McHenry County Board members on mileage, salary cuts
The McHenry County Board understands the devastation that many in our community are facing, be it financial insecurity, food insecurity, the physical or mental health of ourselves or a loved one, access to child care, the obligation of being a caretaker to others, or the uncertainty of the future.
During this time of anxiety and uncertainty, many of us on the Board have been working behind the scenes in various capacities to help those who are affected, either directly or indirectly, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have done so individually, though as a collective, the impact is significant.
As of today, of those reporting, we have collectively spent over 300 hours volunteering and donated more than the 10% of the proposed salary reduction to help local non-profits, agencies, and individuals in the spirit of community service.
The agencies we’ve given to include our local churches, our local food pantries, Senior Care, Senior Volunteer Network, sewing and distributing facemasks, Project Frontline, Turning Point, Second Bridge, MC-Senior TechConnect, Family Health Partnership, and directly helping our neighbors who are ill, first responders, teachers, United Way, and people who are homeless.
We want you to know that we are coming together as a bi-partisan unit to ensure we are doing everything we can to help you today.
As you may be aware, there is a resolution to cut all elected county board members and constitutional officers’ salaries by 10%.
While this sounds like a good easy solution, please note the following:
- A savings of $36,650 annually wouldn’t start until Dec. 1, 2020.
- A savings of $87,230 annually wouldn’t start until Dec. 1, 2022.
- County Board Member salary cuts (which would only be .05% of this year’s budget) wouldn’t take effect until 2022.
Any discussion of salaries and compensation, whether reductions or increases, must be conducted within the long-standing county committee process, specifically within the finance and administrative services committees.
These issues, like all others, must allow for public scrutiny and input, as well as full research and presentation of relevant information.
We have also looked for ways to make an immediate impact to help our community.
The county board members have made the following decisions:
- Those members who request mileage reimbursement will no longer submit that expense when we start meeting in person again.
- This will go into effect immediately throughout the remainder of this year.
That has an immediate reductive impact on the budget.
We will continue to review every expense and look for ways to reduce our budget without impacting services.
We will continue to help others, whether it be monetary donations or volunteer hours.
We will continue to work together to provide leadership to our county in a fair and just way.
We want to emphasize that we are not against the resolution proposing salary reductions.
We are against knee-jerk actions without appropriate input and public discussion.
We are for immediate county action both individually and collectively which helps our constituents get back to work and back to some kind of normal in a safe fashion.
We also want to take this time to acknowledge the incredibly talented and hard working staff of McHenry County.
Because of the consistent excellent work throughout the years, McHenry County is in better shape than most other counties and this work ethic will continue.
Finally, we want to thank the citizens of McHenry County for entrusting us, and for looking out for one another.
There have been countless examples of the generous and hardy spirit McHenry County is known for and we know that we will get through this crisis together because it’s who we are.
If you have any questions, you can find our names and contact information on the County Board Member web page.
Thank you for your support.