Metro-East News

No raises in sight for Madison County board members, some elected officials

Madison County board members and officials elected this November won't see raises for several years after the Republican-majority board approved a measure Wednesday to set and freeze their salaries.

Under the new measure, salaries for the county clerk, treasurer and sheriff, all up for reelection Nov. 6, will be set at $110,115 for the next four years — starting Dec. 1 and ending Nov. 30, 2022.

The measure passed in a 20-6 vote with three board members absent.

The exception to the rule is Sheriff John Lakin, who will earn an additional $4,000 on top of his new set salary. Lakin earned $112,098 in 2017, according to the Belleville News-Democrat's public pay database. Lakin's four-year term ends this year, but he is running unopposed in the Nov. 6 election.

County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza made $114,584 in 2017 and Treasurer Chris Slusser made $110,896 in 2017.

Salaries for board members were previously set through 2020 at $14,495. The new measure extends that freeze through 2022.

The measure to extend the freeze for board members passed in a nearly unanimous vote, with only Alton Democrat Michael "Doc" Holliday voting against the measure.

Since taking majority in 2016, Republican county board members have spearheaded cost-saving efforts in part by cutting funding for early voting and the Recorder of Deed's office, though they boosted funding for public safety.

There are 15 Republicans, 13 Democrats and one independent on the board.

Madison County Recorder Amy Meyer Provided

Republican County Board Member Chrissy Dutton is pushing to merge the recorder's office with the clerk's office, a move she says would save taxpayers money by eliminating Recorder Amy Meyer's salary. If approved by the board, the question could go to voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Meyer says the move would be irresponsible and would not save taxpayer dollars.

Madison County Board Member Chrissy Dutton Provided

The issue did not make it onto Wednesday night's county board agenda as expected, though it passed the Finance and Government Operations Committee earlier this month.

Chairman Kurt Prenzler said he believes the resolution should go through two other relevant committees before it is placed on the agenda before the board, an authority some board members questioned, including Lisa Ciampoli, a Republican from Collinsville.

"I would just like to make sure this does not happen again, that we all understand the rules and in the future that we communicate a little better," Ciampoli said.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said a resolution can make it to the board in one of two ways.

It can either make it to the board through approval by a committee, or it can be submitted by an individual board member and approved by the chairman.

Prenzler said there is still time for the measure to go before the board after going through additional committees.

"I generally agree the voters should have a right to vote, but I do believe a situation of this magnitude needs a written opinion from the state's attorney to ensure the language proposed is correct and can withstand ballot," Prenzler said.

Changes to termination policy

The board also approved a revision to the county's termination policy after a lengthy debate.

The new policy ensures that if an employee was fired because of a criminal charge punishable by more than a year in prison, the employee will be subject to an administrative hearing to determine if they are still fit to serve in their position.

The same goes if the charge is related to "a crime of dishonesty or deceit."

If they are found unfit, the employee will be suspended without pay.

It was uncertain at first if the measure would make it to a vote after board member Philip Chapman, a Republican, requested it be sent back to committee for further review. There was some confusion about exactly which resolution board members were voting on because an amended version was only distributed shortly before the Wednesday meeting.

Gibbons, the state's attorney, did not have a chance to review it until during the lengthy debate. He later supported the resolution with its last-minute changes, satisfying some board members' concerns.

The measure passed 26-1, with only Republican Don Moore voting against the measure.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Recorder of Deed's issue passed the Finance and Government Relations Committee. That is incorrect. It passed the Finance and Government Operations Committee.