Champaign County Board approves executive's salary at $117,269

Champaign County Board approves executive's salary at $117,269

URBANA — A long-debated, highly contentious issue among Champaign County Board members came to a resolution Thursday with the approval of an initial $117,269 salary for whoever fills the new county executive position — which will be decided in the November 2018 election.

The salary, approved 12-9, takes effect Dec. 1, 2018, and increases to $122,006 on Dec. 1, 2021. The vote saw board Democrats Pattsi Petrie, Giraldo Rosales and Lorraine Cowart join with all of the Republicans except Max Mitchell in supporting the measure.

This vote has been months in the making and was deferred in August for more time. Other salary proposals — one setting it at $29,274, the other at $70,000 — were rejected.

Before the vote, board member Josh Hartke proposed amending the $117,269 salary to a flat $70,000 for four years with no raises. He said that was a reasonable number based off his experience in private- and public-sector jobs, and that he was trying to split the difference between the highest and lowest salary proposals.

Every Republican except Brooks Marsh, who left the room during voting, along with Democrats Petrie, Rosales and Cowart, voted against the $70,000 amendment.

"I guess some (board members) had some friends they wanted to get a raise for," Hartke said, referring to the two declared county executive candidates — Democrat Darlene Kloeppel and Republican Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten.

The board also voted 12-9 to retain the county administrator position so that person can assist the county executive. All Democrats and Mitchell voted in support.

Marsh noted that the vote on keeping an administrator is nonbinding. The current administrator, Rick Snider, is paid around $130,000 and may not have his contract renewed when it's up in December 2018.

Snider "has applied for a job in Rantoul," Marsh said.

In addition, Marsh noted that board Chairman C. Pius Weibel was paid $29,500 and the board recently voted to lower that amount to $12,000. But he said he mainly supported the six-figure salary because he thinks it won't give the county-executive role a figurehead status.

"What we really need is vision and direction," Marsh said about what the executive should work on. "Mental health, early intervention, incarceration — those are all tied together."

Board member Robert King said elected positions throughout the county are lacking in diversity and a six-figure position could be a barrier to potential candidates who are people of color.

Among the candidates for the job, Kloeppel, who was director of community services for the county's Regional Planning Commission, has said the six-figure amount is too high, while Hulten has spoken in favor of it.

There is only one other county executive in the state, Larry Walsh of Will County. He makes $144,050 a year. Champaign County voters approved creating a partisan county-executive position in last November's election.

Board member Shana Jo Crews was absent for Thursday's votes.

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Automan wrote on September 22, 2017 at 8:09 am
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So they're going to keep the county administrator position on top of the county executive. Do explain, Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, how is the county executive position revenue nuetral? The taxpayers have been taken for a ride again.

rsp wrote on September 22, 2017 at 11:09 am

We haven't voted for anyone yet, they haven't even defined the job duties, and they've given this person a raise.

Anyone interested in redoing the vote on this dumb idea that wasn't going to cost us anything? Except for all this extra stuff they keep throwing that way.

Why are candidates for an office making suggestions about salary and raises, staffing, etc.?

So who gets laid off to pay this? We've read all the horror stories for months about how tight the money is.

787 wrote on September 22, 2017 at 1:09 pm

How is it that you can have a big Union guy (Hartke), who doesn't want a job with a big salary?  I thought big pay was a union thing.

Oh wait, it's NOT a union position, so Hartke wants the pay to be as LOW as possible.     

Now, that makes sense.  Keep it up, Josh.  

pattsi wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

To rescind the ECE, by statute there are needed 5000 registered voter signature. But to be on the safe side, one ought to collect 7500-10,000 signatures to meet any challenge. One could try to get this on the Nov 2018 ballet and ask for immediate rescinding, or in 2020 or 2022, depending when the referendum gets on a ballot. How the vote would turn out is open for another discussion.

Bottom line is that from an organizational perspective, the county will be on rocky footing really with no Illinois model other than Will County. And things do not work that well up north ofI-80. One can look to the eastern states because an ECE is very common.

rsp wrote on September 22, 2017 at 4:09 pm

This was voted in during a low turnout election. Revoting during a higher turnout election, which in my opinion any change in form of government should happen, could likely change the vote. Probably why there was such a rush to push it through when many had little reason and little understanding of this vote. It's certainly not going to save money.

pattsi wrote on September 22, 2017 at 6:09 pm

The vote on the referendum occurred Nov 2016, which was a presidental year election.Remember Trump won. The voter turn out in CC was over 98,000, which is the largest turn out to date. I do not describe this as a low turn out election.

rsp wrote on September 22, 2017 at 9:09 pm

You're right. All those school district referendum blurred everything together. Statute says the petition must be filed not less than 78 days prior to the election, signed by equal to or greater than 5% of the voters from the last general election. At 98,000 is just under 5,000 not counting any that might get tossed.

The statute right above it is for the salary for the county executive. Says it cannot be lower that 1 1/2 the amount of compensation a county board member is entitled.

pattsi wrote on September 22, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Note: that neither of the organizations who worked to put the ECE referendum on the Nov. ballot came to the CB meeting to speak in favor of the ECE salary. THe organizations are CC Chamber of Commerce and the CC Farm Bureau. Another note that any elected official salary for the next 4 years by statute must be set by a county board 180 days before the election when these offices are on the ballot.

aantulov wrote on September 25, 2017 at 3:09 am

This executive position is eligible for a pension. Is there a way to stop that expense? Perhaps a PERFORMANCE BASED CONSULTANT, BEFORE HIRING OUTRIGHT??????

pattsi wrote on September 25, 2017 at 9:09 am

Just to be clear--the elected county executive, by statute, is a county elected position. And all county elected offiicials are part of the IMRF retirement program.