Champaign County Board to Consider Raises for Elected Officials

January 17, 2012

The Champaign County Board will get its first look Tuesday night at a proposal to raise salaries for countywide elected officials.

County Administrator Deb Busey's proposal outlines three options, providing the greatest increases to the county clerk, treasurer, and sheriff. The memo applies to fiscal years 2013 through 2016.

But County Board Chair and Democrat Pius Weibel, who would also benefit under the memo sent out by Busey, said he is leery of any increases when Illinois' fiscal situation is so unstable.

"The state has been erractic in making payments to us, so we can't depend upon them," he said. "This deals with more than the issue of pay raises, how to budget when you have an uncertain income?"

Democrat Brendan McGinty, who chairs the board's finance committee, suggests the proposal comes from overconfidence in one-time balances. He favors Option 1 of 3, which freezes salaries for the Circuit Clerk, Coroner, Recorder, and Auditor over four years, while the County Clerk, Treasurer and Sheriff receive 2-percent increases each year through 2016.

"That's something we think we can afford," McGinty said. "That's something that I think is fair, based on today's economy, and something that also reflects our seriousness as a whole with the county when we deal with nearly 1,000 employees."

A comparison with other Central Illinois counties shows average salaries for officials are more in McLean, Peoria, and Sangamon. But County Board Republican Alan Nudo said the memo should be expanded to salaries in the private sector.

"It's a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. "One county looks at what the others are doing, and they say 'hey, we're behind', so then they jump ahead, and then the next county looks at it and says 'hey, we're behind', and they jump ahead. I want to see what competition in the private sector is doing as a true base."

Nudo also said he wants the board to consider some worst-case scenarios, like members did in the spring of 2008.

There's no rush for the board consider the raises. A new salary schedule must be released by May.

The Champaign County Board Committee of the Whole meets Tuesday night at 6 as the Brookens Administrative Center.

Story source: WILL