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County finance committee freezes salaries for multiple offices

Sheriff’s position being debated

Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:21 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – There’s a chill in the air at the Grundy County Administration Building after the finance committee approved more salary freezes this week.

The County Board members, County Board chairman, county clerk and county treasurer positions are one step closer to having their salaries frozen as the finance committee Monday positively recommended the freezes to the full County Board, which meets next month.

“Due to our budget restraints and the fact that we believe the current salaries are enough, we will be freezing them,” finance committee chairman John Galloway said Wednesday.

The sheriff’s salary is still under review as the committee could not reach a consensus. Committee members Galloway, Dick Joyce and John Almer opposed freezing the sheriff’s salary, and committee members Chris Balkema, David Welter and John Roth favored the freeze.

The sheriff’s salary is currently set at $105,897.

“Some members felt the sheriff’s position is well-paid for the position,” Galloway said. “Some people, like myself, feel it’s a significant position and it’s currently under-compensated.”

Current Sheriff Kevin Callahan proposed to raise the position’s salary by 2 percent every year for the next four years to help maintain a salary gap between the office’s chain of command.

“I was under the impression that this was a negotiation,” Callahan said Wednesday. “The 2 percent was just a starting point.”

The committee will debate the sheriff’s salary further before making any recommendations to the full board, Galloway said.

The county clerk and treasurer were denied pay raises despite a positive recommendation from the personnel committee favoring raises for the two positions.

Salaries for both clerk and treasurer are fixed at $76,695.

During county discussions two years ago, the board planned to level the salaries of county clerk, treasurer, coroner and circuit clerk at $78,613. The coroner and circuit clerk were raised to that amount, and the current clerk and treasurer had asked the county to consider the previous board’s commitment to raise their salaries, as well.

However, the committee felt those positions were fairly compensated as is.

“I never asked for a raise,” County Treasurer Marcy Miller said Wednesday. “I think it’s important to take care of our nonunion employees. There are currently about 50 employees that are nonunion, and I would say about 30 of those employees have not taken raises in quite awhile.”

Because the clerk, treasurer and sheriff are elected positions, the salary will apply to whomever wins the positions during the November general election.

“They should be setting the salary for the office and not the officeholder,” County Clerk Lana Phillips said Wednesday. “Once the salary is approved, it cannot be revisited for four years, until the term is over.”

Each County Board member’s salary will be fixed at $6,500 a year and the chairperson’s salary at $42,500 a year. The board members also receive a per diem rate for every day they attend a meeting.

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