County board may consider raises for some

URBANA — Champaign County Board members, meeting Tuesday night (Feb. 11, 2014) as a committee of the whole, may consider a plan to bump up the salaries of the county clerk, treasurer, sheriff and county board chair, effective Dec. 1.

Salary increases for officials to be elected in the November general election must be approved no later than May — at least 180 days before their terms of office begin.

As proposed by County Administrator Deb Busey, the salaries of the county clerk and county treasurer — now $86,639 a year — would increase by 2 percent each of the next four years, reaching $93,781 on Dec. 1, 2017.

The salary of the sheriff, now $108,338, would increase to $117,269 on Dec. 1, 2017.

Busey also proposed that the salary of the county board chair, a part-time position that now pays $29,274 a year, would increase to $30,457 on Dec. 1, 2016.

It's unknown who will occupy each of the positions in December, but the incumbents in each office are running for reelection this year. That includes Republican County Clerk Gordy Hulten, Republican County Treasurer Dan Welch and Republican Sheriff Dan Walsh. As of now, none has a Democratic opponent.

The county board chair is chosen from among the county board members after they are seated in December. The current board chair, Champaign Democrat Alan Kurtz, faces both primary and general election opposition.

For the most part, according to data in a memo presented by Busey, the Champaign County officials are paid less than the same officials in four similarly sized Illinois counties: Peoria, Sangamon, McLean and Rock Island.

The county clerks and county treasurers in the other counties, except Rock Island, receive at least $90,818 a year. In Rock Island County they receive $84,000 and $84,500, respectively. The Champaign County sheriff's salary is in the middle of the five counties surveyed — greater than McLean and Rock Island counties; less than Peoria and Sangamon counties — although Champaign County has the largest population.

The county board chair in Champaign County is the highest-paid of all, with the exception of the chair in Rock Island County, who is paid $87,600 a year but functions as a full-time chair in lieu of using a county administrator.

In her memo, Busey recommends annual 2 percent increases as the standard for all elected county officials.

"From a perspective of internal equity it is at the level that we anticipate salaries for all employees will increase on an annual basis for the foreseeable future," she wrote. "From a perspective of external equity, although the largest county in the comparable counties study, with a 2 percent annual increase we are likely to remain at or behind the salaries of the elected officials in those other counties."

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