The Will County Board overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to increase the pay for members in leadership positions at its Thursday meeting.
The proposal would have increased pay for the county board speaker by $5,000 and for the majority and minority leaders by $2,5000 each.
All three members make $1,000 for being in leadership positions on top of their $23,000 annual salary for sitting on the board.
Speaker Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, said at the start of discussion Thursday that she felt it was “inappropriate” to consider any raises for county officials as the COVID-19 pandemic causes severe economic downturn.
“I certainly didn’t feel comfortable [voting for a raise],” Winfrey said.
However, she said she felt such raises would be appropriate under normal economic circumstances.
Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, already had denounced any pay raise for elected officials and said even if the measure were to pass, he would not have accepted the extra money.
“There’s no point to bring any type of raises forward,” he said.
Board member Ken Harris, D-Bolingbrook, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, was one of two members to vote for the pay increases. He argued elected officials should receive adequate pay for their work and that higher pay would incentivize them to devote more time to the job.
“We’re trying to attract the best and the brightest,” he said.
Although he said he understood the reasoning for nixing pay increases during a pandemic, he’s argued elected county officials should see pay increases. He added that no one was “getting rich” from these salaries.
The board also overwhelmingly voted to maintain members’ base salaries and the salaries of several countywide elected officials at current levels.
Those countywide elected offices included the county auditor, circuit clerk, coroner, executive and recorder of deeds, which all are positions up for election in November.
Each official holding those positions makes an annual salary of $93,116, according to county records.