Skala Proposes No Fringe Benefits for County Board Members

In the last Republican Primary election two candidates campaigning on not taking pension and health benefits.

They were District 1 candidates Andrew Gasser and David Stieper.  Gasser won the primary and the election, while Stieper lost to incumbent Republican Robert Nowak.

Stieper did have a good graphic, however, which shows how the issue of fringe benefits for County Board members can be merchandised.

McHenry County Board candidate uses the image of a gravy train to symbolize his opposition to County Board members getting pensions and health insurance for the $21,000 part-time positions.

McHenry County Board candidate David Stieper used the image of a gravy train to symbolize his opposition to County Board members getting pensions and health insurance for the $21,000 part-time positions.

As the discussion of compensation for McHenry County Board members continued (see first article here), Finance Committee Chairman Mike Skala moved to remove all fringe benefits.

For background, below you can see a table showing fringe benefits paid last year (Dec. 2013 through Nov., 2014).  (Mileage isn’t really a fringe benefit, in my opinion, but it’s on the page so I didn’t take it off.)

Payments to County Board members in Fiscal Year 2014.

Payments to County Board members in Fiscal Year 2014.  FICA is for Social Security.  IMRF is the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pension.

As you can see, health benefits exceeded the $21,000 annual salary for Skala and now-retired County Board member Sandra Salgado.

Mike Skala

Mike Skala

After his motion, Skala said, “It’s costing the County.”

McCann seconded Skala’s motion.

“Do we really want to go into that?” Provenzano asked.

“I’m going to be one of the people going up for re-election, so I’m chopping myself,” Skala replied.

“I’m fine with that.”

McCann pointed out that medical costs increase 7% for 2015.

Last year, she said it cost $250-270,000 per year.

“So, here we are in an HR (Human Resources) meeting,” Provenzano observed.

McCann asked about IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) pension payments.

“10,24%,” Associate County Administrator for Finance Ralph Sarbaugh told the Committee members.

“I would have preferred knowing about this before right now,” Yvonne Barnes said.

“I’m real concerned about doing these kinds of things…at the last minute.”

Referring to the requirement that the compensation of elected public officials cannot be changed during their terms, she pointed out, “Half o of the Board [would get] one set of benefits and the another another.”

“I suggest we send it back to HR,” McCann replied.

“My concern is that we’re once again trying to jump over nickels to save nickels,” Provenzano said.

He pointed to a recent hiring for the 911 Board with which he disagreed.

“This Board has a history of spending more,” he continued.

Nick Provenzano makes a point at last Thursday's Finance Committee meeting.

Nick Provenzano makes a point at last Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting.

“[Our] compensation, I think, is fair.

“I’m more concerned with County Board members who don’t show up to meetings week, after week after week after week.

“I think this is a side show.”

Chuck Wheeler

Chuck Wheeler

“If we’re going to discuss fringe benefits,” Chuck Wheeler said, “let’s look at it from an equity standpoint.

“Pick a number out of the air–$10,000.

“[Assume] each gets [that amount to spend on fringe benefits of one’s choice.]

“If 10,001, [the extra comes out of your salary.”

He compared a member with four dependents with one who is single with none.

“Where’s the equity there?”

“For all employees?” asked Provenzano/

“Yes,” Wheeler replied.

“That’s equity.  That’s purity.”

“We’re really paying a lot for our health care,” McCann said, before asking for a joint meeting of the Human Resources and Finance Committees.

Referring I think to participation in the pension system County HR Director Cheryl Chukwu said that all or none of the County Board members have to participate.

“Either you’re all in or you’re all out,” she said.

(Of course, that does not refer to Gasser, who did not sign up for the pension program after he was sworn in.)

Larry Smith

Larry Smith

County Administrator Peter Austin echoed her sentiment:

“Half and half.  A bit problematic.”

“I’m not comfortable having this discussion,” Larry Smith said, suggesting it be done in 2020.

Yvonne Barnes

Yvonne Barnes

Returning to the discussion on per diem, which McCann originally brought up, Barnes said, “I don’t disagree with changing the salary, a change to per diem.

“I will support Nick 100% in having accountability.

“We need to make County Board members accountable for our time.”

McCann’s amendment concerning going to a per diem with a $21,000 maximum was withdrawn with permission of its second.

Here my notes are inadequate.

Skala’s amendment to eliminate fringe benefits was defeated or withdrawn.

The resolution was passed with McCann, Skala and Wheeler voting against it.

Then, to my surprise, an announcement was made that it would go on the County’s Consent Calendar, meaning there floor discussion will be impossible unless someone takes it off the Consent Calendar.


Skala Proposes No Fringe Benefits for County Board Members — 17 Comments

  1. Skala’s proposal should be considered and voted upon, yes, it makes too much sense.

    $15-18,000 in benefits for a part time job….total rip off!

  2. I would go a step further than Cal and say they don’t deserve gas reimbursement and they should get paid less.

    Good luck working like 10 hours a week and making 21,000 a year plus gas reimbursement and having healthcare.

    Get out in the real world like people in McHenry County and see what kind of grueling work they have to do for far more hours and less pay.

    The County Board Chairman doesn’t deserve to be paid 82,000 a year for a part time job either.

    And why are they even in IMRF?

    I thought people had to work 1000 hours per year to be IMRF?

    That’s what they said at the township consolidation meeting.

    And I would support there being fewer county board seats; there are other collar counties with the same amount or a lesser amount of county board members and even higher populations.

    928,725.96 is how much this costs taxpayers.

    The Founders viewed the government as more of a service for people to give back to the community.

    By making juicy deals for government employees, it attract people who want in for the money, not to serve.

    (And please, don’t try to compare this to teachers or people at NASA. I’m talking about elected officials here.)

    By making it something that pays like crap, or that doesn’t pay, it attract more people who are doing it because they are passionate about it.

    And it save money.

    All of you on the County Board deserve far, far less.

    This is a sham and a scam.

    No wonder people are making a mass exodus out of McHenry County and the state of Illinois.

    The only reason you’re able to get away with this is because most people don’t know how overcompensated you are.

  3. When ACA Cadillac Health Plan excise taxes begin in a couple years, taxpayers will be paying 40% excise taxes on the amount these health plans exceed the maximum allowable prices set by the ACA.

    But on top of the 40% excise tax, there will be the unanswered question of whose responsibility it is to pay the taxes on the taxes…

    If the employee has been deemed to have received a taxable fringe benefit from employer, but has had the taxes on the fringe benefit paid for by employer, then the employee will be deemed to have received the amount of the taxes paid on his behalf as income.

    If the employer ‘picks up’ the tax obligation for that ‘extra income’ (phantom income) on behalf of employee, then the employer has to pay that tax in addition to the excise tax.

    And that repeats over and over until amount approaches zero.

    Because this ‘taxable fringe benefit’ issue is complicated and ambiguous, this issue will probably be decided by high courts years after the tax year in which excise taxes and taxes on employee fringe benefit tax ‘pick-ups’ have been paid, there will potentially be years of back taxes owed by somebody after the highest court ruling.

    And years of interest on the back-taxes owed, and possibly penalties will be owed in addition.

    Either employees themselves or taxpayers will be on the hook for that.

    So taxpayers must now demand that the budget now includes an escrow set aside fund for this new expected large expense, and that costs are cut in other areas to ensure that taxpayers can continue to provide public employees this Cadillac healthcare and all the special excise taxes (and taxes on those taxes) it will cost to provide it.

  4. Rep’s have been screaming about cutting the state reps and senators benefits, but when it comes home and personal not so much.

    Rhino’s or closet Dem, Dem is an abbreviation of their real function: Debt Enlarging Maniacs.

    Here we thought we had voted them out, not so.

  5. Larry Smith, go back to real estate.

    Tina Hill you can afford a taxi with the money you make from the tax payers.

    I know we paid for your rehab too.

    Pay it back.

  6. Wow Mr. Skala, after many years in public office and being a businessman, you just figured this out after someone pointed it out to you?

    What else have you and the others missed?

  7. Probably a stupid question but why is this Tina Hill getting $82,000 and everyone else is $21,000 and 1 making $26.000?

  8. Based on news reports and mentions during Board meetings, was Mr. Skala not on the County Health insurance programs when he had his operation(s)?

    Why was he not on the insurance programs at his business?

  9. @The Nob The removal of pensions and healthcare was first raised by a DEM.

    Nice to see all of the Republican’s now jumping on the band wagon now many years later.

    I disagree Cal- why should they receive mileage to attend a meeting they are paid to attend?

    I don’t get mileage to go to work.

    They can take the mileage as a deduction- It isn’t like they are driving to Springfield.

    ANd the parity argument for travel- c get over it- don’t like it, don’t run.

    THis shouldn’t be a money making venture- which it is.

    I have been told by more than one county board member they ran because of the healthcare.

    Wouldn’t it be great if every citizen that need healthcare could just ask the county( and ultimately the tax payers) to provide it.

    Name another job you get a pension and healthcare for under 40 hours PER MONTH of work

  10. jgkm6 Tina was the board chair then, that position gets paid more, the other was ast chair head.

  11. Tina Hills was getting the Chairman salary of 82,000, Heisler was getting extra 5000 for being vice chairmain that has been determined it is not lawful and everyone else is making what was voted on by a previous board to pay.

    The problem is that the argument is we dont want to have half of the board making one thing and the other half making something different so they will kick it down the road and guess what it will remain the same because people keep voting in county board members but than do not pay attention to how they vote. They say lets wait until the next cencus and redistricting this way all seats are up for election.

    The problem is that it should be voted on by the people of how many county board members there are and not up to the county board who has a self interest.

  12. A quarter of a million dollars per year to provide healthcare to these losers and their families.

    Can anyone else think of a 10 hour per month job with benefits like this?

  13. I believe you are incorrect about commuting to and from work being deductible from Federal income taxes.

  14. inish, if you mean Jack, you would only possibly be talking about the county board and only recent history, not the rest of the country.

    Rep talk about smaller gov, but when in power never reduce it really if you look at debt numbers.

    Debt Enlarging Maniacs never even talk about reducing gov or balanced budgets, and are slightly worst than Reps when it comes to adding debt.

    Do the research on the Gov websites, numbers don’t lie.

  15. This is wrong.

    Some of the board members are self employed and providing health care like this, paid for by the tax payer is a perk and unfair advantage.

    Other members are working for other state agencies that can and do provide medical coverage at a cost to the employee of course.

    And others are on the board for the benefits alone.

    I think these benefits water down the desire to serve the tax payer.

  16. It is sad that many assume that this perk may be the only or one of the only reasons those folks run for public office….when one compares the assumption to the reality that SO FEW have chosen to run……many complian that these offices provide so many perks but I am sorry that for so many of these offices we can only produce very few candidates….

    I just want more of the folks who care….to step up…

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