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updated: 2/28/2014 7:42 AM

Editorial: COD trustees wrong on mileage reimbursement

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  • A man passes by a sculpture of a chaparral on the campus of College of DuPage. Travel reimbursements to COD trustees are raising eyebrows.

       A man passes by a sculpture of a chaparral on the campus of College of DuPage. Travel reimbursements to COD trustees are raising eyebrows.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 

In the grand scheme of things at the College of DuPage, it's not a huge deal.

With a budget of about $175 million, a little more than $1,500 is, frankly, small change.

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But the debate this week at the Glen Ellyn community college, does not center on the amount of money, but rather on why it's being spent and by whom.

Daily Herald Suburban Tax Watchdog Jake Griffin reported Wednesday that two College of DuPage elected trustees were reimbursed mileage expense to get to and from the COD campus for board meetings and other functions.

During 2012 and 2013, Trustees Dianne McGuire and Joseph Wozniak received 119 mileage reimbursements for traveling from their homes in Naperville to Glen Ellyn.

In a similar check on expenses paid to other COD trustees and trustees at other suburban community colleges, they were the only ones to request reimbursement for driving to campus, though at least one more thought it was OK to do so.

Wozniak did not respond to Griffin for comment.

But McGuire did, saying "I'm a retired teacher with limited income and I don't want it to cost me money to be a public servant."

The average person doesn't get paid to drive to work and neither should a public servant responsible for spending taxpayers dollars responsibly.

It should also be noted that McGuire's annual pension as a retired teacher is $81,791.88.

"When you don't think it will get any worse, these officials hit a new low," Kristina Rasmussen, executive vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative organization that tracks and analyzes government spending, told Griffin. "When you're demanding taxpayers pay the cost just to get you to the meetings, that's not serving."

The president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation also told Griffin that the reimbursement is "an extraordinarily generous benefit."

We couldn't agree more.

What makes it more galling is this practice has come to light the same week that the COD board increased tuition and fees by $4 a credit hour to $144 for in-district students.

McGuire and Wozniak voluntarily ran for this office and should immediately stop requesting payment for driving to and from the campus to do that job.

If the cost of their public service is too high, then perhaps they should find a new way to serve.

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