DuPage County Board members OK pay freeze for themselves, other elected officials

If they win reelection, DuPage County Board members will continue to make $52,102 a year during their next term.

Board members agreed Tuesday to freeze the salaries of their positions and the chairmanship. The board also extended the current two-year pay freeze for the sheriff, county clerk and treasurer through fiscal 2026.

All 18 board spots, the chairman's seat and the three other countywide offices are up for election in November. State law requires the county board to determine the salaries of elected officials at least 180 days before the beginning of their terms.

Whoever takes over as board chair after Dan Cronin steps down will be paid $136,959 a year. Greg Hart and Pete DiCianni will square off in the Republican primary for the county's top elected post. The winner will face Democrat Deb Conroy in the general election.

The yearly pay for the county clerk and treasurer - $151,363 a year for each - will remain the same. Sheriff James Mendrick, who is running unopposed for reelection, will continue to receive a base annual salary of $174,891.

The sheriff has the choice between the use of a county-owned car or a $450-per-month vehicle allowance. In addition, other countywide elected officials, including the board chairman, receive a $450-per-month vehicle allowance instead of a county-issued car.

During a finance committee meeting before the final vote on the salary package, there was some debate about how much the county board chair should be paid.

Board member Jim Zay proposed reducing the position's annual salary to $121,540 - what former board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom earned 12 years ago.

"A wise man once told me it's the county board that runs the county, not the county board chairman," Zay said, noting the board has been doing the "heavy lifting" distributing federal COVID-19 relief funds during the pandemic.

Zay said the treasurer, clerk and sheriff have full-time roles while the chairman's position "is not a full-time position." He objected to the chair's compensation "getting so much closer" to the salaries of the other countywide officials.

Board member Sam Tornatore said the responsibilities of the chairman have only increased in the last four years.

"It's never been a 40-hour job, and I don't know that it needs to be, but it doesn't minimize the responsibility of the job," Tornatore said. "I can tell you that during the pandemic, Chairman Cronin and I were constantly in communication with Springfield and IDPH and the health department and many others, municipalities, in order to solve the myriad of problems that took place."

The board ultimately voted to leave the salaries as is.

"We pay our countywides very well," board member Donald Puchalski said. "And we always have, and it just seems to me with the new chairman coming in, I think we ought to maintain what we've previously done in the past."

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