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DuPage Co. forest preserve board to get raises
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/21/2008 4:15 PM | Updated: 5/21/2008 9:51 PM

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DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners will see pay raises of more than 3 percent during each of the next four years.

The board voted 6-1 to increase commissioners' salaries from $50,079 next year to $56,912 in 2012. District 4 commissioner Mike Formento was the lone dissenter.

Because half the seats are usually up for election every two years and the state legislature only recently gave forest preserve boards power to set commissioner salaries themselves, the DuPage board was facing a scenario where three of the commissioners were going to be paid less than their colleagues over the next two years if something wasn't done.

President Dewey Pierotti said the board decided to address four years because that will take them up to the 2012 vote when the district boundaries are adjusted after the release of national census results and all six seats are up for election.

Formento said he supported the increase only for the first two years to level the playing field. Those salaries were set by the county board, he said.

"I made a commitment when I ran for this office to not support increases in salaries for commissioners," he said. "When they wouldn't break this out into two votes, I voted against the whole thing."

Pierotti -- whose $101,968 salary was not affected by the vote at Tuesday's board meeting -- said commissioners deserved the increase.

"If you justify it on the results, here's a group of six individuals who have done a great job of running a public entity, who run a tight operation in that they've been able to hold the line on taxes," he said.

District 5 commissioner Carl Schultz said the post isn't really a part-time job and that he considers himself a "24/7" forest preserve commissioner.

"If you're in the grocery store and someone recognizes you and wants to talk to you about whatever, you have to be available," he said. "To be a commissioner has been a sacrifice to my professional business to some degree."

Pierotti said some commissioners work harder than others, but he supports the salary range because it attracts a "better caliber of individuals."

"I understand the concerns of the public and I'm sensitive to them," he said. "The best we could have done was keep salaries at the same level for the last two years, but I felt that amounted to what would in essence be a cut in salary because of inflation."

By the numbers

Current pay: $50,079

2009: $51,581

2010: $53,645

2011: $55,254

2012: $56,912