The Wauconda Township Board Wednesday night approved pay raises across the board for nearly all elected officials of more than 12 percent after several residents spoke up against an initial proposal for more than 25 percent salary increases during a four-year term of office.
The raises will go into effect after a new township board, supervisor, assessor, highway commissioner and clerk are seated following the April election. Each elected official, except the town clerk who waived the increase, will get the 3 percent raise for each of the four years in office.
The board vote was split 2-2 with Supervisor Glenn Swanson casting the tiebreaking vote to approve the raises and full health-care benefits for spouses and dependents of elected officials.
Swanson said the approved pay packages are reasonable compensation for the elected officials and address residents' concerns and comments.
Residents' opinions were clearly divided about the earlier proposal for 10 percent pay raises in the first year for the supervisor and highway commissioner and a 16 percent pay increase for the assessor. Under that earlier package, the three top township officials would have received 5 percent pay increases for each of the following three years.
Swanson said the raises were necessary to bring Wauconda Township salaries up to par with other comparable townships.
Currently, the township supervisor makes $48,224 a year, the highway commissioner $58,201 and the township assessor $58,201.
Many residents who themselves have taken pay cuts in their jobs felt the increases were not justified in the current economic climate.
"I'm definitely against it," said Shay McCorkle, who works for Lake County. "For somebody who's in a public job, and I work in a public job, a 16 percent raise or whatever above just seems to be absurd."
Longtime township resident Dolores Jarchow said township officials deserve the raises.
"They work hard and they work long hours," she said. "They are responsive whenever you call them. They are asking for the going rate because they are doing a special job."
"The residents showed their concerns for wanting to see salary increases for what a good job this board has done and wanting to see qualified candidates continue in the positions," Swanson said. "That's why it was brought way down. Those original numbers were just a negotiation tool."