County board per diem payments may rise : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|County board per diem payments may rise|
|Board backs $10 increase in initial ballot; some stipends may be cut|
|by Matt Schury|
Per diems payments that Kendall County Board members receive for attending meetings could be going up slightly while stipends for board members that chair the board's Planning Building and Zoning and Finance committees could be going away.
The County Board voted to do away with stipends for the chairmen of the Planning Building and Zoning and Finance Committees at their meeting Tuesday.
Currently board member Nancy Martin chairs the Planning Building and Zoning Committee and Anne Vickery is chairman of the Finance Committee.
The board voted 6-2 to nix the $3,000 annual stipends the respective chairman get for heading each of those committees effective December 2012 when the county's new fiscal year begins. Supporting the motion were board members Vickery, Martin, Jessie Hafenrichter, Jeff Wehrli, Bob Davidson and Elizabeth Flowers. Voting against the motion were Chairman John Purcell and Dan Koukol.
Board members John Shaw and Suzanne Petrella were absent.
The motion to increase the per diems passed on a 5-3 split vote with Martin, Wehrli and Flowers voting against the increase and Purcell, Vickery, Davidson, Hafenrichter, Koukol voting in favor of it.
Per diems will increase $10 over eight years, with an initial $5 raise from the current $85 to $90 beginning in 2016 and another $5 increase to a $95 per diem starting in 2020.
There is a caveat to the change, as the County Board will still have to approve the changes to their rules of order next month. That will require votes from a two-third supermajority of board members to pass, according to State's Attorney Eric Weis.
"Whatever decision you decided, make sure you have a two-thirds vote because you're going to have to do that later," Weis said.
Discussion among board members regarding the stipends centered on how much work is expected of the chairman of those two committees.
Koukol said he thought about the issue and decided that chairing the Finance Committee "is quite a job" and "it takes a lot of time."
"I personally don't want it and I just think you should really reconsider keeping that stipend for the Finance (Committee) chairman," Koukol said.
Martin, who has been Finance Committee Chairman agreed, "it's a job" but said she believed the stipend needed to go.
"I agree it's a job but it's a job to do anything-it's a job to be the Forest Preserve chairman, it's a job to be the chairman... it depends on the individual and how much time and effort they put into it," Martin said, adding that she has seen people put a lot of effort into those positions and those that just "go with the flow."
Davidson urged the board to eliminate the Planning Building and Zoning Committee chairmanship stipend but retain the Finance Committee chairmanship stipend. A motion to that effect failed in a 4-4 tied vote.
"I guess I'm sitting on the fence both ways on this," Davidson said.
Vickery explained that the county is going into another tough budget year and thought the County Board should "lead by example" by eliminating the $6,000 for the stipends from the budget.
"We're going to ask for some big cuts this year from a lot of other people," Vickery said.
Flowers said she appreciated the effort by Vickery to eliminate the stipends.
"We've been asking department heads and everybody in this government to cut their budgets as much as they can and trim the fat, trim the fat," Flowers said.
Per diems to
increase for eight years
Regarding an increase in the per diems, some board members debated if increasing them by $10 would harm the county.
Davidson said he didn't think the $10 increase was too much considering the work they put in sometimes going to meetings.
"There's one day where I just basically come here to the county and I'm here the whole day and only get $85, which I don't care. I didn't take this job for the per diem," Davidson told the board. "But it does help pay the gas bill. It does help pay the extra phone bill. It does help pay some of the expenses out of pocket."
Purcell noted this change wouldn't affect seated board members.
Davidson stressed the new board members have no idea how much time it takes to be a board members and how much time it will take away from their families and business.
"If $10 per diem is too much, fine let me know I'll donate it back-whatever," Davidson said.
The speech had an effect on Vickery who changed her mind and supported the increase.
"Bob, you just talked me into it. I'm going to support it," Vickery said.
Vickery said she was going to vote against the increase early in discussions but later changed her mind.
"We have departments heads and elected officials who haven't seen a raise in two years," she said early in the debate.
Purcell said he would support the raise but understood if other board members wanted to keep the per diems at $85.
Hafenrichter added that she thought 20 years without a per diem increase "was not the way to go."
"I think we should have been doing cost of living (increases) in the past so we would be up there," Hafenrichter said.
Wehrli took a different approach to the raise, saying that if the board was going to spend extra money he would rather have County Board members given a county-issued cell phone.
"I would feel a lot better if the phone calls for the county were handled through county phones," Wehrli said.
Davidson said he could see Wehlri's point but wondered aloud "how many phones do I gotta have hanging off my hip."
Wehrli who owns an excavating company, said when he goes over his bill at the end of the month he sees a lot of charges for county related phone calls.
Wehrli said he is sometimes out on the job site with his cell phone and that is the only way he can be reached.
"I just don't get back to the office that often," he said.
He added that the county-issued cell phones would make his life easier
Davidson, who owns a backhoe business, said he saw Wehrli's point of view but disagreed.
"You're business is the same as mine We're out in the middle of the field and we got one phone and I gotta take it, that's part of doing business I think," Davidson said.
Vickery warned Wehrli that those phone would be "at risk" for Freedom of Information Act requests.
"Your phone will be totally FOIAed constantly," Vickery said.
Wehrli responded that he would accept that and welcomed it.
Martin said she thought the stipends were just a little extra.
"The good Lord has been good to me and I'm very financially stable but we should never look at it that you are going to be able to live on what you make as a County Board (member)," she said.
Vickery added that "some people like to make it a career."
Vickery wrapped up her Finance Committee report saying she is going to be reviewing stipend vouchers County Board members turned in from December 2010 to February 2012.
"I met with the auditor and I talked to the State's Attorneys office regarding some of our per diem issues," Vickery said.