When the Pledge of Allegiance is said at any Kane County Board or forest preserve district meeting, board member T.R. Smith salutes the flag.
He's a proud veteran, who now belongs to the American Legion.
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He also believes the county has to cut spending and carefully examine every proposed expenditure.
He was the lone "no" vote Wednesday at the county board's human services committee regarding a proposed raise for a Veterans Affairs Commission worker.
VAC superintendent John Carr had asked for an "EPI" raise for an employee who helps veterans obtain federal Veterans Affairs benefits, such as those for service-related disability. The county does allow "exceptional performance increases" in salary for workers who are especially valuable because of how good they are at their jobs. Carr said the employee has improved the amount of benefits Kane County veterans are receiving, as he helps them prepare thorough, more complete applications that result in faster decisions, due to his knowledge of VA disability regulations. He has received many compliments from clients. The director also said that, overall, nonunion county employees haven't had pay raises since 2007.
But Smith said he couldn't justify a raise to his constituents, including senior citizens living in Sun City in Huntley. "I get an awful lot of feedback from them," he said, and some residents not only haven't had a raise at their jobs in five years, they've had pay cuts. And the seniors are living on fixed incomes and have seen the value of their retirement investments decline, he said.
"Those people (county workers) are lucky they have a job," is what people tell him, Smith said.
When Carr pointed out he has the money in the VAC budget to cover the raise, due to saving money elsewhere, Smith replied that he suspected those same constituents would say the VAC should return the money to the taxpayers.
The man's raise will now be considered by the county board's finance committee.