Kendall County starts looking at board member pay
By Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org December 17, 2013 5:06PM
IDOT Engineer Dave Broviak explains details to Kendall County District 1 board member Amy Cesich during an IDOT meeting regarding the widening of Route 47 between Caton Farm Road and Route 71 at the Hoover Recreation Center Lodge on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Yorkville. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 19, 2014 12:03PM
YORKVILLE — A specially designated Kendall County Board committee took baby steps Tuesday toward looking at how board members are compensated.
The Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee held its first meeting, with discussions bordering on the basics — what constitutes a meeting, when the potential recommendations from the committee could be acted on by the full board, and just what the committee is charged with looking at.
“A per diem to me insinuates compensation, and it could encompass (anything having to with that),” said County Board Chairman Amy Cesich. “The ultimate goal is that we’re doing it correctly.”
Cesich’s remarks came in regard to questions as to whether the committee could only look at per diems — payments board members get for each meeting attended — and not at other possible ways of compensating board members, such as with a straight salary.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said legally, the board could look at anything having to do with compensation, because it relates to per diems. Committee members seemed to agree.
“My understanding was we were to look at the whole compensation, so we don’t end up with a grand jury investigation again,” said board member Scott Gryder.
Gryder was referring to a current grand jury investigation going on of per diems taken by board members for about a 3½-year period ending in about the middle of 2012.
The investigation started after a complaint was raised about one board member as to whether he took per diems he should not have. Weis, because he got two separate complaints, opened an investigation, urging the County Board to hire a forensic auditor to study the per diems of every board member during the 3½-year time.
At some point, the investigation went to the grand jury, which was only discovered once that grand jury began subpoenaing records from outside organizations that County Board members attend for the county.
Only five current board members — John Purcell, Dan Koukol, Elizabeth Flowers, Jeff Wehrli and John Shaw — are part of the investigation. The other five being investigated are former board members Anne Vickery, Suzanne Petrella, Jesse Hafenrichter, Bob Davidson and Nancy Martin.
Five current board members who took office in December 2012 — Scott Gryder, Amy Cesich, Lynn Cullick, Judy Gilmour and Matt Prochaska — are not part of the investigation. That’s why they were appointed to be members of the Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee.
Board members are paid $85 a meeting. Weis pointed out that if the board wanted to change that actual amount that each board member is paid for meeting attendance, it could only do that up to 180 days before a new board takes office.
Pay cannot be changed for elected officials in the middle of a term.
That means the earliest that could happen would be December 2014, and only for half the board that will be elected the previous November. For the rest of the board, it would take place in December 2016.
But Weis said if the board wants to change its rules as to what meetings are eligible for compensation, it can do that.
“You don’t have to wait to change your bylaws,” he said. “But changing the amount — such as changing the $85 to $100 — you have to wait.”
Board members did make some headway in defining a meeting. They agreed that a meeting must have attendance taken, and must have minutes taken.
Cesich pointed out that Prochaska took no per diems for labor negotiations he sat in on, even though many of them lasted three or four hours and were definitely county business. Those are the types of meetings that need to be defined better by county board rules, she said.
“I did not claim any labor negotiations because I wasn’t sure if it fit the policy,” Prochaska said. “I erred on the side of caution.”
The Per Diem Committee will meet every month until it comes up with recommendations for the board. Cesich said while the first meeting was at 3 p.m., future meetings will be in the evening so more people can attend.