URBANA — Salaries will be frozen for four years for the county auditor, coroner, recorder and circuit court clerk, the Champaign County Board decided Tuesday night.
Final action of the no-wage-increase motion will be taken next week.
The salary for the county board chairman also would be frozen at $29,274 for the next two years.
Also Tuesday, the board voted to establish a nine-member citizens task force, to be appointed by board member Michael Richards, that would review the county's social-justice system and present information on possible improvements.
With little debate and by voice vote, the board voted to maintain the auditor, coroner and recorder salaries at $86,328 and the circuit court clerk's salary at $90,070 through fiscal year 2016.
Data presented to the board showed that the salaries of the four countywide officials had increased more than 69 percent in the last eight years. For the year beginning Dec. 1, 2004, for example, the auditor, coroner and recorder all were paid $53,357.
All four of the countywide offices are to be elected this year.
Before the board vote, Kevin Sandefur, one of three Democratic candidates for county auditor in the March 20 primary election, urged the board to be cautious and conservative in setting salaries.
"I believe that it is too soon to start spending new money before we have any guarantee that there will actually be any new money," Sandefur said.
In order to have parity among countywide elected officials, Sandefur said that salaries for auditor, coroner and recorder could be reduced by about $3,000 to bring them in line with the salaries paid the county clerk and county treasurer (now each $83,275, although they are to increase to $90,139 by Dec. 1, 2015).
"It is my personal opinion that such a reduction in salary would not only be more fiscally responsible, but also send a clear message to the taxpayers that we take very seriously the responsibilities of stewardship of their tax dollars," he said.
Another speaker, Michael Fuerst, suggested lowering the salaries for auditor and circuit clerk (now $90,070) "to whatever minimum is required by law."
Three of the current 25 board members were absent: Republicans Gary Maxwell, Steve Moser and Ron Bensyl.