Lake County administrator leaving for new job in Florida

  • Barry Burton

    Barry Burton

Updated 9/11/2018 7:23 PM

Longtime Lake County Administrator Barry Burton is headed to a new job in Florida.

Burton has accepted a job as administrator in Pinellas County, which is on the Gulf Coast. The county includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater.


Officially, Burton's last day as Lake County's top employee will be Nov. 1. But he's planning to take some vacation days and said his last day in the office will be Oct. 24. His contract in Pinellas County begins Oct. 29.

"I will be eternally grateful for being able to serve in this position for almost 17 years," Burton said in an Aug. 31 email to the county board. "I am most proud of the incredible professionals I had the opportunity to work with and the character and integrity by which they carry out their jobs."

The Pinellas County board offered the job to Burton last month after a national search.

According to his new contract, Burton will collect a $267,500 annual base salary in Pinellas County, a bump from his current $247,090 salary in Lake County. He also will receive up to $18,000 in moving costs, $3,000 for house-hunting expenses, a $600 monthly car allowance and other benefits, the contract indicates.

The current Pinellas administrator is retiring. He collects a $252,241 annual salary, the Tampa Bay Times has reported.

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Burton, 54, has led Lake County's staff since January 2002. He previously served as deputy county administrator for Franklin County, Ohio, which includes Columbus.

His departure looms as his staff and county board members face public criticism for how board expense accounts and credit cards have been managed.

That scrutiny was prompted by revelations of misuse by county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. Documents reviewed by the Daily Herald showed Lawlor, a Vernon Hills Republican now on voluntary indefinite leave from the board, repeatedly violated policy by using a county credit card for personal purchases.

Burton was responsible for signing Lawlor's monthly expense invoices.

Illinois State Police are investigating Lawlor's use of public funds and other aspects of his finances.

Burton and other county officials said they intend to change procedures and improve oversight of credit card usage. A proposal is expected this month.

During Tuesday's county board meeting, Waukegan resident Ralph Peterson lashed out at Burton about Lawlor's spending and accused Burton of "fleeing" to Florida.

Burton didn't respond, as often is the case for remarks made during the public comment part of board meetings. He later characterized Peterson's comments as "baseless and without merit."

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