Part 1 – Who’s the Best Politician in McHenry County?

If you thought it was Jack Franks or Pam Althoff, you’re wrong.

Neither of them have been able to snag a 5-year term in office.

McHenry County Administrator Peter Austin, on the other hand, got a five-year contract extension.

That puts him in the driver’s seat until after the next County Board Chairman is out of office.

One County Board  member told me, “[His] ackage now tops a quarter million taxpayer dollars.”

The Resolution passed by the County Board gives no clue as to details:

The resolution authorizing County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller to extend County Administrator Peter Austin's contract less than two months before a new County Board Chairman takes office.

The resolution authorizing County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller to extend County Administrator Peter Austin’s contract less than two months before a new County Board Chairman takes office.  No copy of the proposed contract can be found on the County’s web site.

I’ve been too busy with the election to follow County Government as closely as I would have liked.

As background on this issue, take a look at the minutes of the October 10th meeting of the Management Services Committee, Chaired by Tina Hill.

Management Services Committee Discussion of County Administrator Employment Agreement

The committee members were informed the Human Resource Committee has looked at the current County Administrator’s Employment Agreement to update and remove any irrelevant language.

There is currently an existing agreement in place so they don’t have to rush the changes through.

There is some severance language included that could be read three different ways so they will update this language to make it more clear and understandable.

Increases will remain the same as the employees.

They have included comparables for review.

The vehicle allowance escalator has been removed and will remain flat.

The term of the contract is still up for discussion.

They included a date for after the election though they would like this completed next Tuesday though this may be deferred back to committee.

Ms. Miller noted she would be disappointed if this is not supported.

She stated they need to maintain its continuity of leadership in the County, regardless of the outcome of the election.

She stated the employment of this position should not be a political issue and they should all realize that instability is destructive to the County.

This needs to get done and approved.

She stated if there are modifications that need to get done then do so and get this completed.

It was stated if you review the pay of the current administrator in the corporate arena, the County is
getting a great deal.

The County needs to have an accomplished Administrator in order to create stability for the County.

Mr. Walkup noted that many people do not realize there are alternate models out there for running of a County.

In some areas the County Board Chairman acts like the County Administrator.

He voiced concern the new County Board Chairman could try to change the County to a similar manner and take over the Administration of the County himself.

Chairman Hill stated she feels comfortable voting on this item but would like some advocacy for this.

A resolution could be brought forward in two weeks for consideration at the first County Board
meeting in October.

This item will flow to the Human Resource and Finance and Audit committees in order to share with them what has occurred and to get more awareness and advocacy for approval of the contract.

It was suggested the contract be brought to the County Board the night of the 18th.

Mr. Austin informed the committee members he would not be at the next Finance and Audit Committee meeting.

The Human Resource Committee would review this item on October 6th and the Finance and Audit Committee on the 13th.

Mr. Skala noted the contract mentions his “employer” though the contract does not define who that is.

He suggested they include in the first line the “McHenry County Board” to define his employer within the contract.

It was suggested they make clear that the 24 members of the County Board is his employer.

Mr. Heisler suggested they include the voting members of the McHenry County Board.

The committee members agreed with this suggestion.

Mr. Austin thanked the committee members for their support.

The information will be updated as discussed.

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The Finance and Audit Committee had this on its agenda, but nothing in its agenda packet

Discussion: County Administrator Employment Agreement

Yvonne Barnes

Yvonne Barnes

During the Board meeting Tuesday, Finance Committee member Yvonne Barnes complained of the paucity of conversation during that committee meeting.

She pointed out that it went through a committee that “was selectively chosen because of its make-up.”

“It didn’t go to Human Resources,” she emphasized.

“I think this smacks of dirty politics.”

That was pretty much at the end of the discussion on the five-year contract.

Since the discussion interested me, I thought you might find it of interest, too.

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More tomorrow and the day after.


Part 1 – Who’s the Best Politician in McHenry County? — 6 Comments

  1. I’d be very interested to hear why Walkup and Chris Christensen voted to approve.

    Particularly, when my understanding is, no one has actually seen this contract!

  2. I’d like to see the minutes of the “selectively chosen committee” meeting.

  3. First, that’s a long extension!

    Second, I still suspect the County board members or at least many of them have not seen the original contract.

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