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A good starting point for 'per diem' committee : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
A good starting point for 'per diem' committee

Kendall County Board member Amy Cesich doesn't believe she and the county's nine other part-time, elected board members should receive taxpayer-provided health care insurance or mileage reimbursements to attend county functions.

Cesich, however, told our reporter, Matt Schury, last week she believes board members should receive some "reasonable compensation" for the work they put in for the county.

We agree with Cescish and believe County Board Chairman John Shaw has made a good choice in selecting her to head a special ad hoc board committee to examine the per diems and other benefits available to board members.

The committee held their first meeting Tuesday afternoon as an investigation into the per diem payments to board members by the Kendall County State's Attorney's Office and private auditing firm has continued. The investigation that involves five current board members and six former board members started about 18 months ago.

Board members are currently allowed to collect an $85 per diem for attending board and committee meetings. The per diems are in addition to the $200 monthly salary board members receive. In addition, board members can be reimbursed for mileage and participate in the health insurance program offered to the county's full-time employees.

As we've reported previously here, the cost to the county's taxpayers in salaries, per diems, mileage reimbursements and health care coverage adds up quickly. In April 2012 we reported that from December 2008 to March of 2012, the county's cost for salaries and per diems to county board members was just over $642,779. This amount did not include the county's cost for health insurance to the board members who claimed it during that time period.

In an outline sent to committee members last week, Cesich indicated she wants the committee to "enhance transparency to the public by reviewing current board procedures and polices" relating to the per diem payments and "recommend revisions to current board procedures and policies."

We believe Cesich is on the right track and the county's taxpayers' interests will be far better served with stricter oversight procedures in-place and the board members' health insurance benefits and mileage reimbursements eliminated.

We also believe that board members are entitled to some very modest compensation for their service. In considering what that reasonable compensation should be, board members should consider that the part-time elected members of the county's school, park and library district boards receive no compensation for their service. That means the folks elected to spend roughly 70 percent of the property taxes paid each year in Kendall County (school board) receive nothing for their service. Meanwhile county board members are generously compensated for overseeing an agency that accounts for roughly 10 percent of the property taxes paid each year in the county.

This situation needs to change and we look forward to following the committee's discussions and seeing their recommendations.

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