Saturday, February 4, 2023

Commissioners approve pay cuts to incoming elected officials

The county commissioners met in a regularly scheduled session Monday in which it was voted 2-1, to reduce pay to the incoming county commissioner, coroner and circuit clerk.

Incoming Johnson County elected officials pay is set 180 days prior to taking office.

In November, the elected circuit clerk will begin with pay set at $43 thousand a year with a two-and-one half percent increase per year, a reduction of $6,782 in current pay but with the addition of a yearly pay increase. The incoming coroner will receive $7,500 a year, an addition of $190 in pay, but the position will lose its current two-and-one half percent increase per year. The incoming commissioners pay was set at $9,000 a year, a reduction of $1,000 from the current pay.

Commissioner Jeff Mears opposed the cut to the incoming commissioners salary saying incoming officials should start at the same pay as current sitting officials. County Coroner David Rockwell stated he took over his position making basically the same amount as the 2008 pay and the workload continues to increase and will do so for the next coroner. Johnson County Circuit Clerk Neal Watkins said his position had not received a pay raise in four years and said nothing prevents the commissioners in stepping the pay as with the coroners.

The commissioners also approved a five-year tax abatement plan for Dry Systems Technologies in which an abatement of 100 percent was provided its first year followed by 20 percent increases each following year. Dry Systems Technologies is located just north of Vienna on State Hwy. 45 and lists itself as an industry leader in diesel engine emissions and after treatment technologies, on its website. In March the company met with the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce in which it discussed its efforts to invest in the community and draw its current and future employees from Johnson County residents by supporting and encouraging engineering students and providing scholarships.

No action was again taken on a proposal by the county fire chiefs in which an ability to enact a fire ban and alert media was previously requested at the last commissioners meeting. While at this meeting the request to alert the media was not brought up as it was in the April 23 meeting, it was requested that a policy be put in place that requires people planning to burn to notify the Johnson County 911 dispatcher before doing so.

Vienna Fire Chief Floyd Koehler presented a packet of information outlining the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Forest Fire Protection Districts Act and a copy of a blank burn permit to the commissioners. Koehler said to prevent a passerby mistakenly calling in what appears to be an out-of-control fire, that having knowledge of who, where and when a permit holder is burning, he will not have to send out a half-million dollars worth of equipment to a false alarm.

It was stated that the county did not have the authority to enact such a policy as such and the commissioners requested that the fire chiefs began a process of working with the IDNR to look into attaching such a request to their burning permits. No action was taken and the burn ban issue was left on the agenda.

The commissioners approved the April 23 minutes and before ending in executive sessions approved highway and county bills in the amounts of $73,967.94 and $81,355.05 respectively.

The next regularly scheduled county commissioners meeting is set for May 21 and begins at 3:30 p.m.

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