MORRIS – Various members of the Grundy County Board gave kudos this week to the county’s clerk, sheriff and treasurer for doing an “excellent job,” but ultimately the board voted against pay raises for the elected positions.
The board also approved salary freezes for the County Board chairman at $42,500 and board members at $6,500.
“They do a good job. I wish everybody could get a raise,” member Vicki Geiger said during Tuesday’s board meeting. “But if you look at other counties, and the populations of those counties, our employees are very well paid.”
The salaries have been the source of much debate among board members during the last few months, with mixed recommendations passing through the personnel and finance committees.
The most recent recommendations from the finance committee favored a 1 percent raise for the first two years of the sheriff’s term, and no raises for the clerk and treasurer.
The sheriff’s position currently is salaried at $105,897 and the clerk and treasurer are both 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 during their last contract negotiations.
At a previous personnel committee meeting, the current clerk and treasurer asked the county to follow through with the previous board’s commitment and raise their salaries to that amount as well.
Tuesday, board member Dick Joyce amended the recommendation from the finance committee, asking the board to vote on a raise for the clerk and treasurer.
Joyce argued the board should raise the salaries of the clerk and treasurer – positions currently held by Democrats – just as they previously raised the salaries for circuit clerk and coroner, positions currently held by Republicans.
“We shouldn’t be playing favorites with these offices,” Joyce said. “They’re all very important.”
Joyce’s amended resolution was voted down, 11-4. The resolution to freeze the clerk’s salary at $76,695 passed, 11-3, with opposing votes from Joyce, Ann Gill and Frank Halpin. John Roth abstained from the vote.
The resolution to freeze the treasurer’s salary at $76,695 passed, 12-3, with opposing votes from Joyce, Gill and Halpin.
The vote on the sheriff’s salary was much closer as several of the board members felt the position is under-compensated.
In previous discussions, Sheriff Kevin Callahan urged the board to consider the pay scale of his department. Comparing the current sheriff salary with that of deputies, there is a small difference in pay.
“The responsibility of the sheriff in this county is tremendous,” board member John Galloway said. “When you’re talking about a county with nuclear plants in the area, a tremendous industrial base, a large county – there’s just a lot of responsibility that falls on this sheriff’s head.”
Other board members cited a chart comparing the salaries of Grundy County’s sheriff to surrounding counties, which showed Grundy’s sheriff is paid more than sheriffs in some counties with double Grundy’s population.
“Average incomes [among county residents] are dropping as opposed to increasing, so I can’t go forth,” board member Chris Balkema said. “It’s nothing against the existing sheriff and personnel, which I believe are doing a fantastic job.”
The resolution to increase the sheriff’s salary by 1 percent for the next two years failed, 8-7. The resolution to freeze the sheriff’s salary at $105,897 passed, 8-7, with Doug Boresi, Galloway, Gill, Halpin, Joyce, Ken Iverson and John Almer voting against the freeze.
“I feel I’m well compensated for the job that I do,” Callahan said Wednesday. “But I do feel there should be a separation in pay between me and my deputies.”
The salaries for all of the positions are set for the next four years, or the length of the term, and will apply to the winners of the November general election.
Annual salaries for elected officials
• $6,500 – County board member, no increase
• $42,500 – County board chairman, no increase
• $76,695 – County clerk and recorder, no increase
• $76,695 – County Treasurer, no increase
• $105,897 – Sheriff, no increase