McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler brought up the extra $5,000 paid to the Vice Chairman at Tuesday’s County Board meeting, just as he did in the Finance Committee.
Although unsuccessful in Finance, his motion to follow state law and eliminate the extra money passed 12-10 on the Board floor.
He had a McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Opinion on his side.
While it has not been made public for some reason, Wheeler did get Jana Blake, the Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to the County Board to state its contents.
While having “concern with attorney-client privilege,” she explained, that “here is no statutory authority” to allow any County Board member other than the Chairman to be paid more than any other County Board member.
After eliciting that oral opinion, Wheeler moved that the language giving the next Vice Chairman an extra $5,000 be removed from the compensation resolution.
“From the traditional standpoint, we have always provided this very modest amount of money,” Donna Kurtz said.
[When my father was Vice Chairman of the County Board in the 1980’s, he did not receive extra pay.]
“I don’t believe we always paid our Vice Chairman a nominal fee,” Diane Evertsen replied.
“This is not Springfield. We don’t want it to become Springfield.
“I’d have to go along with the State’s Attorney.
“Hey, what the hey, why not?
“I would rather not have us stuck in a sticky wicket.”
“The purpose is not the chastise…the current Vice Chairman” or the work she has done.
“The purpose is to alert the Board members and the public.
“I don’t know why we ask for a State’s Attorney’s Opinion and don’t listen to him.
“The public is looking at us.”
“I actually didn’t think it was going to be included next year,” Carolyn Schofield said.
John Hammerand, who seconded the motion, said, “This issue was brought up in Management Services before out Vice Chairman took office. The opinion Lake County State’s Attorney forwarded to me stated much the same as the McHenry County State’s Attorney.
“The law says we cannot do that. The state legislature made specific rules. In the state legislature they do allow ppayment for payments for different positions.”
Anna May Miller asked if the Lake County Opinion was like McHenry County’s.
Blake explained that the logic was the same, but that it was about paying committee chairmen more money.
County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller didn’t wait for his last position vote to tell the members how he felt.
“Personally, I’m in favor,” he said.
“What state statute gives us the authority to create a vice chairman?” Nick Provenzano asked.
Gottemoller said there was none.
Provenzano explained during the twelve years he has been on the County Board, the vice chairman has been paid.
Tina Hill explained that Mike Tryon looked into the question of legislative intent when he was State Rep.
What he found was in agreement with the State’s Attorney’s Opinion:
“All County Board members should get the same amount.”
When debate was concluded, Gottemoller called for a voice vote which he declared passed.
Mary McCann asked for a roll call.
It passed 13-10.
Voting in favor of following state law and removing the $5,000 stipend from the County Board compensation resolution were
- Anna May Miller
- Robert Nowak
- Nick Provenzano
- Carolyn Schofield
- Mike Skala
- Chuck Wheeler
- Michele Aavang
- Sue Draffkorn
- Diane Evertsen
- Andrew Gasser
- John Hammerand
- Tina Hill
- Robert Martens
Those opposed to the motion, that is, favoring keeping the $5,000 extra for the next vice chairman, were
- Michael Rein
- Larry Smith
- Michael Walkup
- Yvonne Barnes (current vice chairman)
- Jim Heisler
- John Jung
- Ken Koehler
- Donna Kurtz
- Mary McCann
- Joe Gottemoller
Members are listed in the order they voted