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Raises proposed for Will County officials

Updated: May 8, 2014 9:49AM



Will County officials are predicting a “lively discussion” about proposed salary increases for elected officials when the county board executive committee meets at 10 a.m. Thursday.

If salaries are to be raised, it must be done a minimum of six months prior to the November election, which leaves the county board with just one more meeting before that deadline, unless it calls a special meeting in early May.

Some elected officials have not had a raise in eight years, said finance committee chairman Steve Wilhelmi, D-Joliet.

The recommended increases would put Will County officials more in line with those in surrounding collar counties, according to a spreadsheet created by Bruce Friefeld, the board’s chief of staff.

Friefeld recommended upping compensation for board members from $23,000 to $28,700, with increases of $700, $750 and $750 in each of the following three years.

For the positions of county executive, auditor, circuit court clerk, coroner, county clerk, recorder of deeds and treasurer, it was suggested those salaries be increased to $110,000 from the current $93,116. For sheriff, the recommended increase was from $110,923 to $140,000.

Executive committee chairman and board speaker Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, said he could support a salary hike as long as it does not mean cuts in other programs or an increase in the tax levy.

“We would never propose anything the county could not afford,” he said.

The proposed increase for board members “is very small,” but they will have to discuss the recommended amounts for other elected officials, he said.

“I’m sure it will be a lively discussion, as it should be,” Brooks said.

Will County executive committee vice chair Diane Zigrossi, D-Crest Hill, said salary hikes are “not a question of when, but if.”

Wilhelmi said he is not sure there are enough votes to pass a salary increase and suggested that the amounts be scaled back or phased in over a longer time period.

“Obviously, we could find the money for it. It’s not a large amount of money,” he said.

In 2008, a proposal to raise board members’ salaries to $33,000 drew so much public flak that the Republican majority on the board dropped the matter.

Republican caucus chair Jim Moustis, of Frankfort Township, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The comparison with the four other collar counties of Kane, Lake, DuPage and McHenry showed that DuPage County leaders earn the most, but it also is the most populated county, with more than 916,000 people. Board members there earn $50,079, and other officials earn between $139,835 and $176,573.

In Lake County, with 703,462 people — the most comparable to Will County’s 677,560 residents — board members are paid $40,945 and others range between $119,326 and $154,942.

The lowest-paid board members in the region being used for the comparison are in McHenry County — population 307,400 — at $20,815.

The only elected officials earning less than their counterparts in Will County are in Kane County, where the coroner and auditor earn $88,214 and serve 515,200 people.



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