While most in attendance at the September 6 Kane County Commission meeting were there to express concern about the elected officials’ pay raise, many had left by the time the issue was actually discussed during a public hearing at the meeting’s end (after three hours). The pay raise of $112,000 was approved by a two to one margin, with Commissioners Jim Matson and Dirk Clayson voting aye, and Commission Chair Doug Heaton voting against. The commissioners will see their salary raised from $21,000 per year to $39,000. Other elected officials also received an average raise of close to $10,000 per year – those include the Kane County Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk/Auditor, Treasurer, Assessor and Recorder.

The special town hall meeting was called in an effort by the commissioners to be more transparent with county government. In that vein, the well-organized meeting gave round-up reports on a number of county concerns and issues including: commission goals, general plan revision, enlightened land use ordinance, wild land and wilderness study areas, roads litigation, taxation and effective budgets, property tax rates, consistent salary and wage administration, public safety facility update, courthouse and building security, communication system upgrade, and economic development function.

Commissioner Heaton said they were seeking enlightened land use. “There’s a provision in FLPMA (Federal Land Policy Management Act) to coordinate with local planning and zoning.” He added, the Department of Interior has an agenda to close roads, and assume total control of federal roads. He felt it was in the county’s best interest to seek remedy through discussion and litigation. “I intend to pursue the class B&D roads,” said Heaton.

Commissioner Clayson said they viewed the roads as a transportation corridor. Of some 2,725 miles of county class B roads, all but 400 were RS2477 roads.

The big news for the county’s revenue picture is that budget advisor Dr. Miller said the county would probably not be receiving any further payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) monies. That will be an approximate revenue hit of $1,000,000. He said the commission wanted to run the county as a business.

Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tracy Glover gave an update on the new public safety facility. The 192-bed facility is moving along and approximately 85% complete. It will be operated and controlled by the county, and will represent a hire of 19 new employees. They will open the building on November 2.

Concerning county economic development, Matt Brown spoke of the importance of uranium mining. He also briefly informed those in attendance about several innovative new programs such as KanApp for creating a culture based around technology, and the Little Hollywood media lab.

Concerning elected official wages; the commissioners said it had been 12 years since the commission wages were adjusted. Here are a few audience comments about them getting the raise:

• Kurt Alexander – “If you get a raise, I’m going to have to pay more taxes.”

• The commission said they would raise their salary from $21,000 per year to $39,000, to bring them into parity with other like-sized counties. They cited how much time they had to spend at county business, with their own personal finances suffering.

• Commissioner Heaton – asked the audience, “What do you think we’re worth?”

• Mac Robinson – He commented he thought they were worth the increase.

• Dennis Brunner – stressed that the county was in the middle of a big recession, and it was poor timing for any raises.

• Teresa Trujillo – “I think you deserve a raise, but I’m just not sure you deserve that much.”

• Pat Tietse – commented on just printing money when you don’t have any backing for it...we are trying to balance this.

• Mark Gilberg – also questioned the poor timing of the increase, saying he just received a four percent paycut! His salary was already 25% below highway patrol officers from neighboring states.

The commission decided to adopt the pay raise model and review it every two years.