Why the Kane County sheriff may get a 28% pay raise

  • Ron Hain

    Ron Hain

 
 
Posted4/14/2022 5:00 AM

The 2022 election may see one small step for fans of Kane County law enforcement and one "giant jump" in the salary of the sheriff.

A new Kane County Board ad hoc committee exploring pay raises for county officials unanimously spoke in favor this week of increasing the base salary of the sheriff to as much as $160,000 per year. That would mark a 28% raise.

 

It would also be the first pay hike for the position in more than a decade.

The committee began exploring salaries this week after a state mandate to examine the compensation for elected officials on the 2022 ballot following the decennial reapportionment of county board districts. The committee of county board members will wade into the politically murky waters of raises for themselves and their Democrat and Republican colleagues running for countywide offices this year.

The committee is comparing the salaries of elected officials in nearby counties as a baseline to measure how attractive and equitable the elected positions are in Kane County. It's difficult to establish a peer group for such positions as the duties, the number of people the offices serve and the sizes of support staffs vary widely from county to county.

But the bipartisan compensation committee reached an informal consensus in its first meeting that the Kane County sheriff is underpaid.

"The sheriff's office is the greatest (compensation) differential we have out there," said Cliff Surges, the committee chairman. "What our sheriff makes comparative to his peers, comparative to municipalities is lacking. We need a giant jump forward."

The most recent payroll documentation on the county finance department's website dates to 2019, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain's first full year in office. It lists the base salary for the position as $124,750. He also received health and dental insurance worth $27,000 and more than $22,000 in pension contributions from the county.

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That brings the total compensation for the position to more than $183,000 in 2019.

"Having a high-demand 24/7/365 job as sheriff and having to take on a part-time job to support my family has not been easy," Hain said in an email. "I appreciate the board's review and support of the increase."

The information available through the county's financial transparency hub shows there were at least 37 other employees in the sheriff's office who earned more than the straight base salary of the sheriff in 2021 via a combination of salary, overtime and "other pay."

If the county board approves a sheriff's raise, it would not take effect until after the November election. By then, new state legislation awaiting the governor's signature could force the county board to increase the sheriff's salary and shift most of the cost away from Kane County taxpayers.

The legislation, HB 4700, requires counties to pay sheriffs no less than 80% of the salary of the county state's attorney. That would equal a Kane County sheriff's annual salary of at least $151,000. And it requires the state to pay two-thirds of the sheriff's salary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

County board Chairman Corinne Pierog spoke in support of a sheriff's annual salary of at least $155,000. Surges suggested $160,000.

Committee members said they are already polling the rest of the county board about how those amounts might fair in a vote.

"My feeling from talking to other board members is this would have overwhelming support," county board member Ken Shepro said.

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