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posted: 10/27/2012 8:00 AM

Campton Hills wants input on clerk, gambling and sirens

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Campton Hills voters on Nov. 6 can provide some valuable input on three ballot questions, one of which the village board must follow.

Village leaders are asking residents for their positions on whether the village clerk's position should be an elected or appointed position after current Village Clerk Carolyn Higgins' term ends in spring 2015.

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Village trustees also want feedback on whether the village should allow video gambling and whether a fee on natural gas bills should be used to pay for a series of emergency warning sirens situated throughout the village. The gambling and sirens questions are advisory.

"We often ask a referendum question to ask people what they think because it really is a good way of getting a good indication of what they want," Village President Patsy Smith said.

• The first question, if approved by voters, would make the village clerk an appointed instead of elected post after Higgins' term expires.

Higgins, who was elected to a four-year term in 2011, said she is not planning to seek another term. She said she does not have a problem with the ballot question, but would prefer that the post remain elected.

Higgins said an appointed clerk could feel pressure from the board when transcribing minutes and doing other tasks that an elected clerk might not feel.

"I do believe an elected clerk is more independent than an appointed employee would be," said Higgins, who estimates she spends about 20 hours a week on her clerk duties. "I just think it gives a better separation and impression of a more impartial record as an elected clerk. It's going to be natural to do what the boss wants you to do. As an elected clerk, the people are my boss."

The current position pays a little over $6,000 a year, and if the clerk was to be appointed, village trustees would have to increase the salary.

Smith said the village can't pay a qualified clerk candidate unless that person is appointed. She said it's a "real gamble" and "Catch-22" right now to get a qualified candidate for such a low salary. If the clerk was appointed, the board could determine qualification and salary to ensure whoever is in the position has the time and skills to do the job.

"We're just asking people what they think. Clerk Higgins is there til 2015," Smith said. "If you do it too close to the election, it becomes political. It's better to do it now."

• Video gaming machines in bars and taverns went live in Illinois this month. Smith said Campton Hills trustees voted unanimously in December 2009 to ban video gambling, but since then, Old Towne Pub has expressed interest in video gaming.

"Because of the timing we said, 'We'll find out what the residents want,' " Smith said.

• Campton Hills leaders also want to know if residents want the village board to ink an agreement with Nicor to help pay for emergency warning sirens. The deal would all $3.50 a month to gas bills for up to 12 months and dropping to 50 cents a month after that.

Smith said a network of eight or nine warning sirens would cost between $175,000 and $200,000.

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