Kane Co. budget to have employee salary info
Kane County will begin its budget process for the 2012 fiscal year in less than a month, and elected officials will be armed with an unprecedented level of detail about departmental costs, particularly in regard to everyone's salary and raises.
The county board's Finance Committee Wednesday reviewed new forms each department head creating a budget will be required to fill out. The forms require a job description for every position, current and proposed salary information for every employee and detailed justification for any requested salary increase. The forms seemed to be designed to eliminate any ambiguity in what level of spending county board members are really approving when the new budget is eventually OK'd this November.
Though not mentioned Wednesday, such ambiguity sparked a recent lawsuit by Elburn resident Jim MacRunnels about raises for 14 senior county employees in previous budgets that MacRunnels believes will cost taxpayers up to $20 million in salaries and pensions. MacRunnels is a former candidate for county board chairman. The raises were budgeted by current County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay. She's defended the raises as coming with the full approval of the county via their passage of the budgets that contained the raises.
Since the lawsuit, county board member have probed the ability to lower salaries on the higher end of the pay scale. The most recent probing involves the potential six-figure salary to hire an animal control director. The county is currently preparing to advertise that vacancy as having a midpoint salary of $95,000.
The new forms also seem designed to garner information involved in a still-pending lawsuit with Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller. The forms specifically ask about the anticipated filling of any vacant positions and any legal ability to pay an employee with money from a special fund specific to that office rather than the county's overall general fund. The ability to use special funds for employee salaries is at the heart of the Seyller lawsuit.
County staff reported they currently expect Seyller to have a budget deficit of more than $400,000 this year. Seyller has repeatedly disputed that. The difference is in the way special funds will ultimately be used in Seyller's office.
The new budget forms were recommended by a Budget Advisory Panel created by the Finance Committee. McConnaughay praised the efforts of the committee on Wednesday in trying to come up with a uniform approach to collecting information from department heads. But she charged them with going further to use the information to establish a way to prioritize spending overall.
"This is significantly more than what you've asked for in the past," McConnaughay said of the new forms in addressing the Finance Committee. "I highly recommend that you do adopt this. The biggest criticism we've received from elected officials is the inconsistency in what we've asked for. This information should guide you all through the year and into your supplemental budget process as well. I ask that you spend a little bit of time really thinking about what additional information that you need to have."
The forms will go out to department heads for commentary before they are implemented. The Finance Committee will meet again in early May to consider possible changes to the forms.