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updated: 7/8/2011 7:08 AM

New Kane Co. development director gets 15 percent raise

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Kane County officially has a new man in charge of county development, though public recognition of the change won't occur until the release of a pending memo from County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

At least one county board member believes the process in choosing the replacement wasn't transparent enough.

Tim Harbaugh will become the first development director since the retirement of Phil Bus nearly two years ago. The county delayed filling the position because of the stark drop in construction during the down economy. Harbaugh currently serves as director of the county's Facilities, Subdivision & Environmental Management Division.

His promotion comes as more attention is needed on the infrastructure in the Mill Creek neighborhood west of Geneva. The county serves as the public works department for that unincorporated community.

Harbaugh's new position comes with a higher salary. His pay will move from $106,000 to $121,400. That's an increase of nearly 15 percent. Harbaugh's old position will be eliminated in the change.

The county board's executive committee agreed to the promotion and raise in a closed-door meeting Wednesday. No public vote was ever taken on the change. County board member Jim Mitchell was in the meeting and said he told everyone he has a problem with that.

"The chairman said there is no need for an open vote," Mitchell said. "I believe that's a violation of board rules."

Managerial salaries have received more scrutiny since a lawsuit filed last year alleged 14 county employees improperly received raises without full knowledge of county board members. The lawsuit was dismissed.

McConnaughay said the committee action followed a process the entire board agreed to last month. That's when board members voted to restructure the development department.

McConnaughay said board members also agreed to let the executive committee handle the filling of the development director position. The committee has long filled such slots without a public vote, McConnaughay said.

"We can do an open committee vote on this if the board wants that, but this issue involves an employee performance review," McConnaughay said. "I don't think that should be done in a public setting."

McConnaughay said all county board members have been invited to participate in the selection process, including all closed-door meetings. That said, she believes the executive committee was the best place to evaluate Harbaugh's candidacy.

"The county board chair, along with the committee chairs, are clearly more involved in the day-to-day business and are in better positions to understand fully the performance of any given employee," McConnaughay said. "If this board wants to be involved in all the day-to-day activity, then I would suggest it's not really effective to have 27 people trying to manage the county on a daily basis."

McConnaughay's memo is expected to detail Harbaugh's new duties and salary increase.

Most nonunion county employees have not received a raise in the past three years.