After a week-long delay stemming from transparency concerns, the DuPage County Board voted to raise the pay for several seats and cut stipends for a number of major county positions Tuesday.
The split votes, all of which included at least three nays, will raise the salaries of board members elected or re-elected in November by 2 percent in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The same increases will go into effect for the chairman, regional superintendent of schools, treasurer, clerk and sheriff positions.
Board member San Tornatore called the raise "symbolic," and said over the course of the four-year pay schedule it would mean about $10 extra a week for most board members.
"It might be considered a pat on the back, but if taxpayers don't think we are doing a good job, they certainly have the right to vote other people in," he said.
Chairman Dan Cronin said the increase in board member salary from about $50,000 to $52,103 was a modest cost of living adjustment back-ended to give the county time to recover from recent economic hardships. The chairman's pay is now slated to go up to $131,559 from $126,450.
Six voted against their raises, many saying the board was already well-compensated for its work.
Board member Laurie Nowak said DuPage County has some of the highest-paid elected officials in the state and many receive outside income for their work at other full-time jobs.
"I think we need to keep in mind that this is not Monopoly money," she said. "It's hard-earned by people in our districts. And tax dollars should benefit taxpayers, not elected officials."
The board's votes will raise the salaries for the treasurer and clerk by $5,650; the sheriff by $6,527; and the county-paid portion of the salary for the regional superintendent by $1,291. The state pays for the remainder of the position.
The board also voted to cut stipends for the liquor commissioner, the secretary to the liquor commissioner and the supervisor of safety, who advises the board on traffic-related issues. The positions are currently held by the board chairman, county clerk and county sheriff, respectively.
The cuts will save $24,650 annually. The largest amount comes from the $15,000 apportioned to the sheriff for his safety supervision duties.
The items, excluding the liquor commissioner stipend, were originally slated to be voted on during the board's meeting May 27.
However, the meeting was stopped by Glen Ellyn resident and county clerk candidate Jean Kaczmarek, who said the vote would violate the Open Meetings Act.
She said compensation packages of $150,000 a year or more must be advertised at least six days in advance, but that the May 27 meeting information was posted May 23.
Kaczmarek said at this week's meeting before the vote that most elected officials were good people but that problems such as the previous week's attempted vote were the result of members not being fully informed and a small few with questionable motives.
She also expressed hope that the board would not go through with the raises.
"Today you have an opportunity to show taxpayers that you care about the bottom line so much that you're willing to make a personal sacrifice," she said. "That the ideals of transparency and accountability must transcend convenience and temporary fixes that don't represent the people in the room but the people outside this room."
Fiscal Year 2015 salary vs. Fiscal Year 2018 salary
• County board members: $50,079 / $52,103
• Chairman: $126,450 / $131,559
• Regional superintendent: $31,955 / $33,246
• Treasurer: $139,835 / $145,485
• Clerk: $139,835 / $145,485
• Sheriff: $161,573 / $168,100
• $15,000 for supervisor of safety (county sheriff)
• $6,500 for liquor commissioner (board chairman)
• $3,150 for secretary to liquor commissioner (county clerk)