Kane County Board members to consider raises for themselves, other elected officials
Kane County officials will wade into a politically thorny debate of whether to give raises to themselves, or possibly their replacements.
County board Chair Corinne Pierog has outlined the raise discussion twice in the last month to various groups of board members.
"Please don't think individually about your own vote; think about future boards," Pierog told board members earlier this month. "You're not just voting about yourself. Think what a future board member may want."
But Pierog is not up for reelection in 2022. Meanwhile, the entire county board is up for reelection thanks to reapportionment after the 2020 Census.
Reapportionment will also trigger a parallel debate about how many county board seats there should be, district boundaries and whether to separate the combined county board/forest preserve district commissioner role into different, elected positions.
Board members received a comparative review of the salaries of elected officials in neighboring counties Wednesday from Auditor Penny Wegman in preparation for the debate that will likely span the next several months. The board may choose to focus on its own salaries or those of all the elected officials in the county.
Kane County Board members receive an annual salary of $25,000 and are the only part-time employees in the county eligible for health insurance. Board salaries last increased 10 years ago.
The auditor's report shows the average annual county board salary among DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties is $32,847. McHenry County is on the low end with a salary of $21,000. DuPage County Board members have the highest at $52,102.
The Kane County Board chair position hasn't seen a raise in 14 years. The auditor's report shows the current annual salary of $105,328 is above average for the area. Only DuPage County offers a higher salary at $136,959. The average salary among the collar counties is $104,302.
Wegman's study also examined the countywide elected officials' salaries compared to neighboring counties'. That showed Kane County's auditor, circuit clerk, coroner and recorder are the lowest-paid elected officials in those roles among the collar counties.
The Kane County clerk, sheriff and treasurer are also on the low end of the pay scale. Only Will County has lower salaries for those elected positions.
The Kane County state's attorney is also an elected position, but the salary for that job is set by the state.
Pay raises for elected officials have been historically unpopular with Kane County voters and a point of attack for challengers looking to unseat incumbents. State law prevents county officials from giving themselves raises that take effect within their current term of office. But a vote to increase compensation must occur at least 180 days before the next primary.
The last time county officials considered a pay increase was in 2016. It began with a memo calling for raises of 10% to 33% for elected department heads.
Heavy pushback shrank the raise proposal to 10%, but even the smaller amounts earned only eight "yes" votes from the 24-member board in the final tally.
Three people who supported the raises are still on the county board: Deb Allan, Bill Lenert and Monica Silva. Five who voted against are still on the county board: Mark Davoust, Drew Frasz, Mike Kenyon, Myrna Molina and Barb Wojnicki. Current board member John Martin was also on the board in 2016, but he was absent for the final vote.
The next election is the primary on March 15, 2022. That means county board members have until about mid-September to decide on raises.