The finance report was one of the topics that brought comments from
members of the public. This month's meeting of the committee ended
with inserting a $2,500 raise for Emergency Management Agency
director Dan Fulscher into the fiscal 2014 budget.
Originally, the EMA committee had decided to give Fulscher a
raise of $9,564 in 2014. This amount had been suggested by Fulscher,
and he had asked for the raise to be added gradually over the span
of the next four years. Board member Terry Carlton said at the EMA
meeting that the discussion was moved to the finance committee in
order to ensure that a majority of the board could have their say on
the matter, and the raise was amended.
The raise has not been completely approved, as the budget is
still being created and is subject to change.
"The budget will go into a draft and be looked at several times,
and then it will come before the board and it could still be
amended," said Chuck Ruben.
"Every salary except for elected officials are open for
discussion," added Carlton.
Bruce Huskins, a guest at the meeting, told the board that as he
understood the situation, Fulscher has two part-time jobs: one for
911 and the other for EMA. As a result, Huskins said he was not sure
what qualified Fulscher to receive the potential benefits of a
full-time position, such as retirement and health care.
Huskins said the public is upset with how the county government
is "picking the taxpayers' pockets" in order to pay county
Ruben said that in this specific instance, both of Fulscher's
jobs are combined into one full-time position for the sake of
pension under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. IMRF is the
system within the state government that pays government employees,
and both EMA and 911 are groups that pay into the fund.
Another guest at the meeting told the board: "Firemen don't get a
raise for every fire they put out, and the same goes for every
arrest and conviction a policeman makes. And that's their job, and
they're not making anything close to what Mr. Fulscher is making."
The guest also mentioned that Ruben had previously stated to leave
the motion off the agenda, and that getting grant money was part of
Ruben replied, saying that a topic of this nature can still be
brought forward for a discussion, but not a vote.
"It would be out of order for us to bring this forward to vote
on, because it is a budget change, and therefore it has to come up
with the budget," Carlton explained. "That's the process." He added
that the grants Fulscher has won over the years for the county have
far outweighed the salary he asks for. As of July of 2013, Fulscher
has received over $3.7 million since he was hired as director for
EMA and 911.
Andy Anderson said he plans to bring up the topic in the future
for additional discussion.
Fuslcher also spoke at the meeting. He told everyone present that
he originally wanted to see a raise over four years and that a
person in his position with a part-time job working over 20 hours
per week can qualify for IMRF.
"I think I'm very prudent with your tax dollars. I don't think
there's a time that anybody calls for help and I'm not there or the
phone isn't answered," said Fulscher. "I think I worked hard to
justify what I'm making ... That's why we talked about it in open
Fulscher commented on the grants he has received, saying that the
only grant program that is part of his job description is the
Emergency Management Performance Grants. The other grants he worked
for have been found through the resources at his disposal, and all
of the work has been his own.
Huskins said the grant money is still tax money, and it's still
taxpayers paying for it.
Lisa Bobb, a county employee, asked the county board where this
money would come from, as she has heard several times that the
county board does not have extra money, specifically for health
insurance. She asked board member Kevin Bateman if he did propose to
give Fulscher the full initial requested raise ($9,564) in one year
instead of four.
"I would like to know where this money is coming from, when he
was the outspoken person at every health insurance meeting, saying
that the county board does not have any money," said Bobb.
Bateman said he did make the comment concerning Fulscher's
potential raise, and nobody asked him why he said it. Bateman
explained that the conversation surrounding Fulscher's salary
focused on comparisons with neighboring counties and "the great job
he has done over all of these years, and all of the money that he
has saved this county with the grants coming in."
"If we give him a small increase this year, then it's up to the
next board to decide salaries. ... My motion was to set his salary at
the limit that he asked for, and if you listen to the minutes, you
know I asked Mr. Fulscher if he would be asking the other board
(911) for a raise and he said no," said Bateman.
Bateman said it would be easier for future boards if the salary
was set now rather than potentially increased every year for a few
Bobb reiterated that she did not know where the money for such a
raise would be coming from, as other employees have been told
multiple times that there is no extra money available for additional
health coverage or pay increases. Ruben said each department was
given a 3 percent increase to their salary line items last year,
which was the first increase in several years. However, by law the
board cannot dictate the exact specifics of who gets a raise in each
Vice chairman David Hepler cut the discussion short, saying that
while not everybody agrees on topics like this, this kind of
discussion is what ultimately helps to bring the board forward as a
whole to piece a budget together.
[to top of second column]
Another topic that brought conversation was the report from the
Executive and Economic Development Committee. After months of
deliberation, the committee brought forward two motions in an effort
to establish a project compliance and oversight management position,
or PCOM, for the oversight of a transportation grant, as well as the
redistribution of duties that secretary Pam Meagher has taken on
since she was hired. The motions originally came forward as follows:
Meagher would be
hired as PCOM and secretary at a salary of $37,500, plus an
additional $2,500 next year, bringing the total to $40,000. This
motion would also come with an increase in the part-time line
item to $10,000, which would be used to hire part-time help for
The second motion would be to hire Will
D'Andrea as an office manager, in addition to his other
positions in regional planning, GIS and zoning. D'Andrea would
also see an increase in salary, bringing his pay to $65,000.
On the first motion, Carlton said that such an increase to
Meagher's salary would be too much compared with those who have
worked for the county longer than she has.
Anderson said it would be worth the raise, as Meagher's duties
have increased since she was hired and she has stayed the most
informed as to the PCOM requirements. Anderson also added that the
grant she would be overseeing will pay for most of her salary.
Kathy Sanders, a county employee, said that it does not seem fair
if Meagher gets such a raise in pay when there are other employees,
Sanders included, who have not seen much in the way of wage
increases over the past several years. Another employee, Shannon
McCray, echoed the statement.
Meagher said it would be impossible for her to continue the work
she has been doing and take on the PCOM position simultaneously.
"Right now, I have 62 hours of comp time sitting on the books," she
said. Meagher also said the part-time position that could be brought
in would help to ease that workload. "I feel like I have offered a
reasonable compromise to the board to get this done," she said.
Bill Martin agreed, saying that Meagher's workload is the big
factor in this decision.
Meagher also said that the PCOM position is more akin to an
auditor than a secretary, which will be very different from anything
she has done as a secretary.
Sanders said she does work with grants and audits for the
probation offices in the county, but she does not see that kind of a
Ruben reiterated that only those elected or appointed can be
given individual raises. Meagher is one of those employees, as she
was appointed to her position.
"You can't come here and say you didn't get a raise and blame
us," Ruben said.
Carlton attempted to amend the motion for discussion purposes so
that there would be a 3 percent increase in Meagher's current salary
of $28,640 and a $20,000 position added to aid in the office.
Carlton said he would like to see more money in the part-time line
item in order to take even more of the workload off Meagher's desk.
The amendment failed.
Bateman also attempted to amend the motion for discussion
purposes. Bateman said he would like to see Meagher's salary change
to $34,000. He also wanted to create a full-time position at an
unspecified salary to free up time for anyone involved in county
business. Bateman's amendment also failed.
"It sounds like we're spending money like crazy. But if you come
to some of the meetings, every year we budget the money, and every
year we move the money to spend it somewhere else. ... It's not
increasing the budget; we're moving money around," Bateman said. "As
a board of whole, we all have stewardship of the county's dealings,
and I can point to every single one of us who have come up with an
idea to save the county money."
The other discussion concerned the potential hiring of Will
D'Andrea as an office manager, in addition to his other positions.
He would also see an increase in salary, bringing his pay to
$65,000. D'Andrea's office would change locations if he took on this
job. He would also take on a few more research duties for the county
when they come up.
Ruben said he wishes he could provide a job description at the
moment, but it is too early to tell exactly what everyone involved
will be comfortable with in determining his duties. Ruben also said
that they have come to an understanding that if D'Andrea is not
satisfied with the job, he can cease being the office manager and
return to his former job at his former salary.
It was decided by the board that the issue of the job description
would return to committee prior to the official vote. The board will
vote on both of these issues on Tuesday.
Board members present for the meeting were vice chairman David
Hepler, chairman Robert Farmer; Bill Martin, Andy Anderson, Andy
Meister, Kevin Bateman, Pat O'Neill, Gene Rohlfs, Chuck Ruben and
Terry Carlton. Dan Fulscher, Will D'Andrea and Bret Aukamp were also
present, as were over a dozen other guests.
[By DEREK HURLEY]