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updated: 6/3/2014 4:53 PM

DuPage holds line on salaries, eliminates stipends

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  • DuPage County Board member Don Puchalski, center, explains why he doesn't believe countywide elected officials should get annual stipends.

       DuPage County Board member Don Puchalski, center, explains why he doesn't believe countywide elected officials should get annual stipends.
    Robert Sanchez | Staff Photographer

 
 

Stipends for three countywide elected officials in DuPage will be eliminated after November's general election while the salaries of all county leaders will remain unchanged for another 2½ years.

The county board on Tuesday decided the annual pay for six county board members and five countywide elected officials won't be increased until fiscal year 2017, which starts on Dec. 1, 2016.

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When the pay raise takes effect, the salaries of the board members, county board chairman, sheriff, treasurer, clerk and regional superintendent of schools will be increased by 2 percent. There will be another 2 percent hike at the start of fiscal 2018.

"Stipends are not appropriate at this point in time," Chairman Dan Cronin said after the board agreed to eliminate the $6,300-a-year stipend he receives for serving on the local liquor-control commission.

Also going away on Dec. 1 will be the $15,000 annual stipend the sheriff receives for holding the position of supervisor of safety and the $3,150 annual stipend the county clerk gets for serving as secretary of the liquor commission.

"There's no reason for stipends, which are just add-ons," board member Gary Grasso said. "It's time for them to go."

Meanwhile, the county board members, board chairman and other countywide elected officials won't get a pay increase when the next fiscal year starts on Dec. 1.

The board chairman makes $126,450 a year, the treasurer and clerk each make $139,835 a year, and the sheriff is paid $161,573 annually.

DuPage County Regional Superintendent of Schools Darlene Ruscitti receives an annual salary of $109,464 from the state, according to the state board of education. The county then pays her an additional $31,955 a year.

As for county board members, they all will be making $50,079 a year. Board members also are eligible to receive health insurance and a pension through the county.

Cronin called the 2 percent annual increases scheduled for fiscal 2017 and 2018 "conservative and modest."

"It's consistent with what we have done with county employees," he said.

Still, a series of board votes on the salary schedules wasn't unanimous. Several board members opposed any pay raises.

Board member Tony Michelassi said officials already are "adequately compensated" and don't need a pay bump. He said increasing the salary of six board members will result in the rest of the board getting pay raises in the future.

Board member Lauren Nowak said most board members are getting full-time salaries for doing part-time work.

"We need to keep in mind that this is not Monopoly money," Nowak said. "It's hard-earned by people in our districts. And taxpayer money should benefit taxpayers -- not elected officials."

But Sam Tornatore and most of the other board members supported the pay raises. He said the raises are necessary because it rewards elected officials for the work they're doing.

"If we don't do that (increase pay), we're sending a signal to the county board members that they're not doing a good job," Tornatore said.

The decisions about pay had to be made Tuesday because state law requires the salaries of county board members and countywide elected officials be established at least 180 days before the beginning of their terms.

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