STOOKEY TOWNSHIP — The Stookey Township Board voted 4-1 on Monday to increase the salary and reduce the health benefits of the highway commissioner elected in April.
The pay for all other elected township officials will remain the same.
The highway commissioner elected in April 2013 will earn $60,000 a year. The salary for current Highway Commissioner Chad Davis is about $53,200.
Davis currently has health care benefits for himself and multiple dependants under a family plan. Board members reduced the benefits to cover only the highway commissioner and one dependant.
Township Supervisor David Bone said the healthcare premium will be reduced by more than the salary increase given to the highway commissioner position.
"There's actually no increase whatsover in the overall compensation package," Bone said.
And, Bone said the township is actually in the process of looking at less expensive health-care plans as a cost-saving measure. Such a switch will affect about 10 township employees.
Bone, along with Trustees Steven Gomric, James Ellison Jr. and John Barger, voted "yes."
Trustee Larry Massey voted "no."
Bone also pointed out that no elected officials, including the highway commissioner, has gotten a raise in five years.
Compensation will stay the same for the supervisor at $37,586 and health benefits; for the clerk at $13,044; for trustees and the assessor at $5,306; and for the treasurer at $1,000.
Massey said township officials rightly froze the salaries for the supervisor, clerk, treasurer, assessor and trustees -- and should have done the same for the highway commissioner.
"We should have followed St. Clair Township's lead instead of giving a salary increase here," Massey said. "I think (Davis) is making enough money as is."
In October, the St. Clair Township Board voted to reduce trustees', clerk and assessor's pay by 10 percent, the township supervisor's pay by 5 percent and froze the highway commissioner's salary at its current level.
Massey said that Davis chooses to run for highway commissioner knowing what the salary is and should find another job if the pay isn't sufficient.
Davis' position is autonomous: He answers to voters and not the Stookey Township Board.
The News-Democrat reported in March that Davis pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and sentenced to court supervision. And, Davis' township-owned truck was outfitted with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device.
Davis was off-duty and driving his personal car, a 2006 Cadillac, when he was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving.
The police report states that he told the deputy about his elected position and asked to get out of the situation, and then said that if deputies were to get stuck on Stookey roads, he'd leave them there.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.