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Grundy County looks at salary freezes

Published: Friday, April 11, 2014 9:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:16 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – The Grundy County Personnel Committee was unanimous Thursday night: There will be no pay raises for Grundy County board members or the board chairperson next fiscal year.

Pending approval from the Finance Committee and full County Board, each board member’s salary will be fixed at $6,500 per year and the chairperson’s salary at $42,500 per year.

The committee’s recommendation regarding the salaries of sheriff, county clerk and treasurer was not so clear-cut, as half of the six committee members favored raises and the other half pushed for freezes.

State statute dictates the county set salaries for elected positions in four-year segments. The sheriff, county clerk and treasurer contracts being debated would set salaries for fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

County Clerk Lana Philips, Treasurer Marcy Miller and Sheriff Kevin Callahan asked the committee to consider pay raises for their respective positions.

The proposed raises for all three positions combined, over the course of four years, would cost the county a total of $12,584.

Personnel committee members Chris Balkema, Millie Dyer and David Welter opposed the increases while Ann Gill, John Almer and Ken Iverson favored them.

“We’re not going to solve our budget problems on the backs of a few employees who work very hard for this county,” Iverson argued Thursday night.

Personnel Committee members that disagreed with the pay raises – including chairwoman Vicki Geiger, who cannot vote – cited the need to trim each department’s budget with the prospect of losing $1.8 million as the main reason for their opposition.

The loss of $1.8 million could be in sales tax revenue generated from the controversial point of sale taxing strategies used in Channahon and Morris. The two municipalities are in the middle of lawsuits with the Regional Transit Authority.

The RTA claims the two towns diverted a “significant amount” of sales tax revenue from Cook County by encouraging companies to set up small offices in Grundy County, which has a lower sales tax rate, and routing sales through those offices, even though they are based elsewhere.

“I’m concerned about what they have asked me to do as head of Personnel Committee. I’ve got to come up with 10 percent [in cuts],” Geiger said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do that without maybe people losing jobs and I do not want people to lose jobs.”

During county discussions two years ago, the board planned to level the salaries of county clerk, treasurer, coroner and circuit clerk at $78,613. The coroner and circuit clerk were raised to that amount during their last contract negotiations.

The clerk and treasurer asked the county to follow through with the previous board’s commitment and raise their salaries to that amount as well.

The raise would amount to a 2.5 percent increase in each of their salaries, which are both fixed at $76,695.

“We need to bring [the clerk and treasurer] up to this amount as we talked about before, getting them all on a level playing field,” Gill said during the meeting. “Bring them up to this amount next year, and then hold tight the next three.”

The sheriff – a position salaried at $105,897 — also asked for a raise. Although Callahan proposed the raise, the increase applies to the position and not the office holder, meaning the salary would apply to whoever wins November’s sheriff’s election.

“I feel that I’m very well compensated, currently,” Callahan told the committee. “That being said, there has to be a gap between my salary, my chief deputy’s salary, my lieutenant’s salary and so on because of our structure.”

Callahan said with his 31 years of experience, he could return to the rank of patrol sergeant and his salary would be close to $104,000, which is near his current salary as sheriff.

Callahan proposed a 2 percent, per year increase for the next four years. If that was approved, the sheriff’s ending salary in fiscal year 2018 would be $114,626.

All recommendations about County Board and elected official pay will see further deliberation at the Finance Committee before being voted upon at the full County Board.

OUTBOX

Proposed salaries

• $6,500 – County board member, no increase• $42,500 – County board chairman, no increase• $78,613 – County clerk, after a 2.5 percent raise• $78,613 – County treasurer, after a 2.5 percent raise• $114,626 – Sheriff, after a 2 percent raise every year for next four years

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