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Committee asked to revisit salary freeze

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 8:03 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – Lana Phillips may be the Grundy County clerk and recorder, but she addressed the Personnel Committee as a member of the public Thursday.

During public comment, Phillips asked the committee to reconsider the elected official salary freezes recommended by the committee in April and approved by the full County Board in May.

Those freezes applied to the clerk and recorder’s position, the treasurer’s position and sheriff’s position, all of which are up for election this November.

Phillips will be retiring from her post this year and is not running for re-election this fall.

“This does not involve me. I am not on the ballot, but I ask you to revisit this,” Phillips told the committee.

Her plea was prompted by recent public comments made by board member Chris Balkema and board Chairman Ron Severson indicating the county’s finances are not as dire as once predicted.

Earlier in the year, county officials feared losing $1.8 million in sales tax revenue would strain the budget, but they are now finding other revenue sources are mitigating the budget hole.

“We are realizing that we’re going to walk out of this fiscal year with reserves higher than what we thought two or three months ago,” Balkema said during Tuesday’s County Board meeting.

In a Tax Committee meeting held earlier this month, Severson mentioned instituting a potential property tax rebate program to help whittle down some of the county’s millions in cash reserves.

With that in mind, Phillips asked the committee to reconsider raising the salaries to levels discussed in previous meetings.

The total combined raises would cost the county $12,584 over four years.

“It is my hope that you would revisit this. Vacate that resolution that you adopted in May. We are not talking about excessive amounts of money,” Phillips said.

The salary raises would put the clerk and treasurer at $78,613 per year.

This would put them level with the coroner and circuit clerk, whose salaries were both raised to that level two years ago.

“I ask you, I implore you, to visit it again. It is unfair that two elected officials will receive more than the others for the next two years,” she said.

The committee did not respond to Phillips comments.

Personnel members were scheduled to discuss pay raises for all other nonunion county employees Thursday, but the committee tabled the discussion for fear of interfering with ongoing negotiations.

“We need to wait, maybe, until they have completed their conversations and negotiations,” Chairwoman Vicki Geiger said.

“If we offer any changes here, it could give leverage,” she continued.

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