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Kane’s top prosecutor wants raises for staff

Joe McMahKane County State's Attorney 12-7-10

Joe McMahon Kane County State's Attorney 12-7-10

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Prosecutors’ pay

Starting salaries for prosecutors in
area counties, according to Kane State’s Attorney Joe McMahon:

$57,000 — Cook County

$56,000 — DuPage County

$54,000 — Lake, Will, McHenry counties

$41,000 — Kane County

Updated: July 16, 2012 6:29AM



After years of losing experienced prosecutors to other counties, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon plans to again ask the Kane County Board for significant raises for his staff.

At a meeting with reporters Thursday afternoon, McMahon said he’s tired of having experienced prosecutors leave solely for better pay.

“We have first-rate lawyers and we pay them second-rate wages,” McMahon said.

McMahon said in the last three months, four assistant state’s attorneys have left the office for private practice or to work as prosecutors in other counties. This has been an issue for years in the Kane state’s attorney’s office. The previous state’s attorney, John Barsanti, who is now a judge, had long fought to raise the starting salaries of his attorneys, after losing experienced prosecutors to Kendall, Will, DeKalb and DuPage. (See chart)

Kane County is seen as a place for prosecutors to start their career, get training and work on felony cases for a few years — then move to a higher paying county, Barsanti and McMahon have contended.

McMahon said the trend has continued in the 18 months since he was appointed. McMahon understands he can’t compete with private practice, but he says it’s a disservice to residents when the top attorneys are poached by smaller counties with smaller caseloads. He has good candidates choosing other counties because of money and experienced attorneys leaving to be paid 25 percent to do the same job in another county.

“They don’t move. They just drive 15 more miles for more money,” McMahon said. “The only reason that they give me is they can’t afford work anymore here.”

In July, McMahon said, he expects to ask the County Board to move starting salaries for Kane County prosecutors to $53,000. That would also require bumping up the salaries of other prosecutors in the office.

McMahon’s salary is set by statute and would not increase. Increasing the salaries for the 121 employees in his office would cost about $446,000, McMahon said. His total budget was $8.8 million last year.

McMahon said he does not want to increase taxes to pay the potential raises. He believes shifting money and increasing some fees would cover the cost of the raises.

He quietly proposed similar raises last year, but the office’s budget stayed flat.

McMahon said there is a toll for losing attorneys: less efficiency in case movement, pleas and approving charges.

“You can’t replace experience in front of a jury with classroom experience,” he said.



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