By John A. Ballentine
Elected officials of Stark County had their salaries formally set and frozen for four years Tuesday, May 8, at the county board’s regular meeting. The county clerk/recorder, sheriff, supervisor of assessments/zoning officer, treasurer and county board members were among elected officials impacted by the board’s decision to freeze salaries. The circuit clerk’s salary had been previously set in December of 2016.
Circuit Clerk Julie Kenney’s salary was established, in 2016, at $40,000, which represented approximately a 10 percent cut in pay than what previous Circuit Clerk Marian Purtscher had been receiving.
Incoming County Clerk/Recorder Heather Hollis will receive $40,000 per year despite an appeal from retiring County Clerk/Recorder Linda Pyell, who currently earns $45,533. In a prepared statement, Pyell asked that Hollis’ salary be left at the current level of $45,533.
Treasurer Paula Leezer’s salary was set at $45,480 per year although she has only been in that position for the past 14 months. Kenney had been deputy circuit clerk for 18 years prior to her becoming circuit clerk and Hollis has been deputy county clerk/recorder for four years.
In a letter to the Stark County board, Kenney wrote, “I respectfully ask that all three elected officials in their first terms of office of the circuit clerk, county clerk & recorder and the treasurer be set evenly at $40,000.” Kenney pointed out that her salary of $40,000 was a “precedent” set when she did not receive as much as the retired Marion Purtscher had been earning. At that time, one of the reasons for the cut was stated as the county budget was in financial difficulties.
Sheriff Steven Sloan’s salary was confirmed to be $61,000 while Supervisor of Assessments/Zoning Officer Renee Johnson’s salary is $50,755 for both positions.
The board set their own compensation at $50 per regular meeting and $40 per special and committee meetings. The chairman’s salary is $2,000 per year. Typically, at least in the past several years, board members have not taken this compensation in order “to help out” with the financial budget problems.
A resolution calling for the Illinois General Assembly to oppose increasing the age of “Delinquent Minors” was passed by the board. Illinois’ age would rise from 18-years-old to 21-years-old to be consider a “delinquent minor. If passed by the General Assembly, Stark County would incur increased costs for housing “juveniles” resulting from court decisions requiring the county to house minors.
According to Probation Officer Allison Leezer, the daily cost to house a juvenile is $125 per day at the Mary Davis Home, located in Galesburg, Illinois. Leezer, in her presentation to the board, pointed out that these costs for juvenile housing are exceeding the county’s budgeted amount for such. She added that an alternative to housing would be an $8 per day monitoring ankle bracelet.
A resolution reappointing Phillip N. Shaner to the Stark County Board of Review was passed, as well as resolutions reappointing John A. Leezer to the Stark County Farmland Assessments Review Board and Steven R. Jackson to be appointed to the Stark County Board of Review.
A resolution for the Adoption of a Qualified Based Selection Process for Procurement of Professional Services was adopted. As a recipient of Federal Aid Highway Funds, Stark County must comply with all applicable rules and regulations pertaining to the use of said Federal Funds.
County Engineer Report
Under general maintenance, County Engineer Mark Otten reported that sealcoating work, to be performed by Porter Brothers, is scheduled at the end of June or early July. Also, Curnyn Construction has begun the Osceola Road Culvert reconstruction project due to be completed by mid-July.
The sealcoat project of 24 miles of Stark County highways has begun with an end date in July. Advanced Asphalt is scheduled to complete the railroad grade crossing improvements in Osceola Township.
Bridge inspections of the county and townships bridges has been completed and also this year the county highway department will bid out the mowing of county properties compared to mowing the properties by county employees, which drew time away from other projects.
The county board has passed the county’s solar ordinance governing the installation of solar panels within the county. It was passed with slight revisions to its’ wording and added language to the original drafted ordinance.
The board’s next regular monthly meeting will be June 12th, at 7 p.m. Lynn Newton was absent from this month’s regular board meeting.
By John A. Ballentine