DuPage Co., IL. (ECWd) –
At the may 24, 2016 DuPage County Board meeting, I spoke during public comment and questioned the two Ordinances passed by the DuPage County Board at their previous meeting. UPDATE: Video of the meeting is located (here) and public comment starts with Kirk Allen at 44:34, and John Kraft at 50:10, followed by other members of the public.
Both dealt with compensation of elected DuPage county-wide offices and the compensation those elected officials are receiving and are the subject of this previous article (here).
The first Ordinance was for the stated purpose of “Restating Benefits Available to Elected Officials” – which, in our opinion, is void since you cannot “restate” something that was not stated previously nor properly authorized to receive in the first place. Essentially, it was an attempt at back-dating approval of health, life, and dental insurance, IMRF, and a vehicle allowance.
The second Ordinance was the Compensation setting Ordinance for elected county-wide offices whose terms start in December of 2016.
Let’s start out by stating the obvious: A Resolution/Ordinance setting the compensation of elected officials is a contract between the Board and the voters, letting them know what each elected official will receive for the performance of their duty during their term of office.
Board Member Curran asked the board attorney if a benefit, vehicle allowance for his question, made via Ordinance would be “wiped out” once a new salary resolution was established after the vehicle allowance ordinance. (we believe the answer is “yes”)
The Attorney responded by reading Attorney General Ryan’s opinion 00-013 stating that once compensation/benefits are set that it continues whether actually used or not and that there was no requirement for a board to pass a new salary ordinance prior to each election. (the question was not answered)
On that part, we agree…but it continues…
The Attorney continued answering a follow-up question on the form of compensation, by stating that since the “vehicle allowance ordinance had not been changed since 2000, that it was still valid. He also failed to recognize that each and every new Ordinance setting compensation would absolutely nullify previous Ordinances regarding compensation/salary, regardless of which benefits those Ordinances established. He never stated the Ordinances approved two weeks ago – or two years ago – nullified previous ordinances or not, which was the underlying question asked.
He even pointed to a 1977 Ordinance for health insurance – stating that was the authorizing document. However, there have been many compensation ordinances passed in DuPage County since 1977.
Another Board member stated that he was confident that his State’s Attorney had reviewed these Ordinances and should be trusted. My point, and I am not suggesting the SA is acting improper, is that for this particular issue the Board may want to rely on an outside agency, be it the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office since their State’s Attorney would stand to lose more than $35,000 per year if he wrote an opinion contrary to what the board passed two weeks ago.
It remains our opinion that these benefits, or compensation, (based on the definition of Compensation in Article XX, Section 20-101, of the Code of Civil Procedure) are not authorized at this time, and only become authorized in December of 2016, and only for those terms of office starting this December. The past two elected official salary/compensation Ordinances did not include the other items, and therefore cannot be received.
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