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Modest salaries only for county board : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Modest salaries only for county board

Kendall County taxpayers should be pleased that several members of an ad hoc County Board committee chaired by board member Amy Cesich recently voiced support for doing away with per diem payments made to the board's 10 members.

As we've reported here before, board members are currently handsomely compensated for their part-time duties. They receive a base salary of $2,400, an $85 per diem for attending meetings and are eligible to enroll in the county's taxpayer-funded health insurance program. But the perks don't end there. Board members can also request reimbursement for their gas when they drive to meetings and other county functions from their homes and can participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

What this means is county taxpayers over the years have been paying to fuel the vehicles of many-but not all-board members so they can drive to county meetings so they can collect their $85 per diems while receiving all those other benefits.

According to information presented to the committee last month by the county treasurer's office, County Board members received $146,720 in salary and benefits in 2013 alone.

This is utter nonsense and a waste of taxpayer money.

As an alternate, we continue to support replacing the board's current pay and benefits package with salaries that would be paid monthly and would be commensurate with their part-time duties. In addition, paying board members' salaries will free county staff from the time-consuming task of overseeing the proper disbursement of per diem payments and mileage reimbursements. Most importantly, it will eliminate the possibility that future board members will abuse these unnecessary perks.

As to how much board members should receive in salary, we recommend the committee review the salaries paid to other part-time, elected officials in the county. For example, in Oswego village board members can earn a maximum of $6,600 per year, including $3,600 in base salary and a $50 stipend for each meeting they attend. In neighboring Montgomery, board members receive a straight salary of $7,200, which we consider overly generous.

Board members might also want to keep in mind Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq. LeClercq is the top elected official for the county's largest municipality. Like the County Board, his position is considered part-time. LeClercq can earn a maximum of $9,000 annually, $6,000 in salary and up to $3,000 in meeting fees. Unlike the County Board, LeClercq does not receive any mileage reimbursements when traveling to village meetings or $85 per diems just for showing up. LeClercq and the village's other elected officials are not eligible to enroll in the village's employee health insurance program or participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

We would argue that as village president LeClercq has far greater responsibilities and comes in for significantly more public scrutiny than any of the 10 County Board members. Individually they certainly shouldn't earn any more in wages and benefits than Oswego's top elected leader.

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