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posted: 10/13/2011 6:00 AM

DuPage forest officials talk cutting own pay

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  • Joseph Cantore

      Joseph Cantore

  • D. "Dewey" Pierotti

      D. "Dewey" Pierotti

 

As they prepare to unveil scaled back benefits for new employees, DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners this week discussed lowering their pay, too.

Commissioner Joseph Cantore raised the idea during Tuesday's weekly commission meeting, suggesting elected officials should cut back if others in the district must do the same.

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"We have asked suppliers to tighten up, contractors to make sacrifices, and employees to make sacrifices," Cantore said. "How do we not ask the same of ourselves as elected officials?"

Recent cuts have included raise freezes for district employees within the last fiscal year. In addition, the district is poised to adopt a new personnel manual that reduces benefits for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2012.

District President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr. said he agrees elected officials should lower their pay, including reducing the salary for his office that now makes about $107,000 per year with benefits and a monthly car allowance.

"People will say I'm a hypocrite, because I'm taking the salary now," said Pierotti. "But when I started this was a new operation and a full-time job to make this a free-standing taxing body. But I know what the job entailed in the past and what it will entail in the future, and this is important for long-term planning."

In addition, Pierotti said salaries for forest preserve commissioners and county board members are supposed to be identical, but a nearly $7,000 disparity has grown since the forest preserve began operating as its own entity in 2002.

"That changed because we gave raises, since county board members were able to bump their salaries by being committee heads," Pierotti said. "Our salaries certainly shouldn't exceed those of a the county board, but if the commission wants to make it even lower, that's fine."

Currently, forest preserve commissioners earn nearly $57,000 annually plus mobile phone and laptop perks, while county board members earn about $50,000 with similar benefits.

Some commissioners on Tuesday suggested revisiting the idea of salary cuts in spring, but Pierotti said the topic will likely be discussed again Oct. 25 during the commission's next planning session.

Cantore and Pierotti agreed the discussion should happen soon, so voters in the spring primary know where incumbent candidates stand on pay cuts.

"This whole discussion goes toward transparency," Cantore said. "(Waiting) doesn't make any sense."

Seats in all districts, with the exception of Pierotti's, will be open in the primary election.

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