The Hound was reading his favorite DuPage County newspaper, The Naperville Sun, when he saw a story that piqued his curiosity. It seems members of the DuPage County Board rejected salary increases, stipends and travel reimbursements this past week. How refreshing, considering Lake County Board members' money grab.
In DuPage County, salaries will remain flat over the next four years for the dozen board members to be elected in November, according to the salary schedule in The Sun. The newly elected members will make $50,079 each year through 2012. That compares with Lake County Board salaries in 2012 of $44,074 --- a 15.5 percent increase over 2008. It should be noted there are 18 DuPage County Board members; 23 in Lake County.
But that's not all the DuPage County Board members did. Committee chairman and vice chairman also will cease to receive stipends of $3,000 and $1,000, respectively.
And although other county personnel now will be able to claim higher mileage reimbursements for travel related to county business, board members exempted themselves from receiving transportation compensation.
This has got to be a first in the annals of government and certainly something never seen in Lake County.
Six DuPage members whose terms will continue past the November election, will receive annual raises for their seats, which were approved in 2006. Their current salary of $50,079 will grow to $53,645 over the next two years.
But, now get this: At that point, the board may vote to pull those salaries back to $50,079 as well. Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said, noting: "We would presume, based on past history, that we would seek to equate their pay the next time around."
Brien Sheahan of Elmhurst was the backbone behind the proposition to withhold travel reimbursements from board members. He said the decision should show other county employees that board members understand the difficulties they face. "In the real world people are not compensated for their travel to and from work, so I think it sends a message to our employees that we understand the cost of commuting," Sheahan said, according to The Sun account.
The main reason, DuPage officeholders said they froze their salaries, was to show taxpayers they look at ways to keep taxes and spending as low as can be. "It's belt-tightening time," noted one official. DuPage is the second County Board is the six-county area to reject pay hikes, following Kane County earlier this month.
Most of us know what Lake County Board members did when faced with a similar dilemma: They followed the money and went for the gold.