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May 25, 2024

DuPage County: Letter On Compensation of Elected Officials (Part 2) –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 10, 2016

Naperville, IL. (ECWd) –

Continuing with the letter concerning compensation of DuPage County elected officials (Part 1 here), on Page 6 starts the discussion of Health Insurance participation (complete letter here):

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We agree that the Counties Code “authorizes” county elected officials to participate in insurance programs, but we also note that this authorization is not a mandate and does not constitute part of their compensation as set in a compensation setting Ordinance.

The passage of a 1977 Resolution does not make this part of elected official’s compensation, only a properly adopted compensation setting Ordinance can do that – and DuPage County adopted such an Ordinance in May 2016 after we raised our concerns on the matter (for those beginning a term of office in December of 2016).

“We’ve always done it this way” is also not a proper excuse to keep doing it that way.

Timeline of DuPage County Health Insurance Personnel Policy:

  • July 1980 – requires 37.5 hours per week to be eligible for medical and life insurance (resolutionpolicy)
  • February 2001 revised personnel policy – medical, dental, and life insurance only to “regular full-time” employees (defined as 37.5 hours per week) and part-time employees who are budgeted to work at least 20 hours per week and who have completed 10 years of continuous service. Additionally, IMRF was required to regular full-time employees budgeted to work at least 20 hours per week. (resolutionpolicy)
  • October 2004 (the 2002 policy is similar) – same requirements as the 2001 policy, except IMRF was changed to reflect 1000 per year requirement (but does not mention elected officials as participating – they were included in 1992 and 1997 Ordinances) (resolutionpolicy)
  • November 2012 – Changed to full-time employment for medical and dental insurance eligibility – with special conditions for Convalescent Center employees (resolutionpolicy)
  • CURRENT Policy as amended in 2015 has the same full-time requirement (at least 37.5 hours per week)

According to DuPage County’s own policy manual, you have always had to be regular, full-time to be eligible for health insurance benefits and even though the Counties Code “authorizes” elected officials to be considered “employees” for the purposes of health insurance, it does not require health insurance be provided to every employee, and DuPage County’s own policy excludes those who are not full-time employees. DuPage County defines “full-time” as at least 37.5 hours per week and they define “regular” (this word eliminated in 2010 change) as employees with an indefinite term of employment (which would have effectively excluded all elected officials, even those working more than 37.5 hours per week). So as the “personnel policy” currently stands, only those elected officials that work full-time are “eligible” for insurance, which could include the Treasure, County Clerk, State’s Attorney, Board Chairman IF, and only if, it was listed in their compensation setting Ordinances.

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This is wrong. A county cannot authorize anything after-the-fact. Just because they say they do, does not make it legal. County Policy for its employees is not an authorization for compensation of elected officials and cannot be back-dated to somehow try and make it legal.

The remainder of this section is predicated on the author’s determination that the county board properly established the insurance benefit. We believe it was not properly authorized pre-2016, we believe they did properly authorize it in 2016, but only for those starting their term of office in Dec 2016 provided they meet the definition of “full-time” as defined in DuPage County personnel policy (which no board member meets).

Pages 6 thru 9 discuss whether insurance is compensation or if it is something that can be given and taken away at any time. We believe it is compensation that can only be authorized in a compensation setting Ordinance like the one DuPage County passed in May 2016 for those taking office in Dec 2016.

Attorney General Burris’ and Ryan’s Opinions are conveniently disregarded as too difficult to do for a county like DuPage, and therefore, just ignore their approach and cling to AG Scott’s definition of “Salary” – even though we already know “salary” and “compensation” are synonyms. When all else fails and insurance is declared as compensation, the writer claims the 1977 resolution authorizes it for elected officials. We disagree, for the simple fact that all subsequent compensation setting Ordinances never included insurance until the one approved in May 2016 for those taking office in Dec 2016. When a new Ordinance is passed by the county for elected official compensation, all previous Ordinances are void.

Vehicle Allowances Pages 10 and 11:

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The DuPage County resolutions authorizing vehicle allowances specifically note that they are “compensatory” allowances -meaning part of their compensation. Those resolutions do not mention elected officials, and even if they did, subsequent compensation setting ordinances would have made their authorization void by not including it in the new ordinances.

AG Opinion 00-1013 does not talk about a situation such as is occurring in DuPage County and never talks about a situation where subsequent ordinances are passed, and what happens to previous ordinances.

Vehicle allowance resolutions are dated 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. The last known resolution (FI-0174-00) on vehicle allowance is invalid as it was approved in November of 2000, effective December 2000 and was either an illegal increase of pay during a term of office, or it was passed less than 180 days prior to the beginning of a term of office – in either case, it does not specifically authorize a vehicle allowance for the State’s Attorney.

Pension Participation (Page 11):

Once again, this compensation must be included in the compensation setting ordinance in order to receive it. Those starting a new term in Dec 2016 have it listed as compensation – others do not. Resolutions “granting” elected officials IMRF: 19922016

Other Benefits (page 12):

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For reasons we’ve already stated, anything received that is not listed in their compensation setting ordinance, and that is not available to every person, employee/elected/or citizen, on equal terms, is not authorized. If they can’t receive those benefits as citizens, what makes them think they can get them without an ordinance as elected officials?

Implied Repeal of Previous Ordinances (pages 12 and 13):

Our opinion is simple, when a new ordinance is adopted purporting to set the compensation of elected officers of DuPage County, that is the only source document to look at when determining the compensation of elected county officials. Each and every previous ordinance setting their compensation is automatically repealed when the new ordinance is passed.

The two cases cited were referencing two different state statutes and how each statute could not be inconsistent with the other, or provide for absurd results. That is not the case here, the DuPage compensation ordinances set new compensation on each one’s effective date(s) intended to replace their previously set compensation.

The author implies that all previous resolutions establishing insurance, vehicle allowances, and other benefits do not conflict with each other, and he is correct, however, they do conflict with  new compensation ordinances. The author implies that each resolution establishing different benefits (the insurance programs were never established for elected officials – see the timeline above) need not be mentioned in a future compensation setting ordinance. We disagree. The counties code clearly requires counties to fix the compensation in accordance with the method of compensation selected by the county board, and such compensation shall be set before the general election (now at least 180 days prior to beginning a new term of office).

This section of the counties code tells us that when an ordinance is passed which sets the compensation of elected officials, only those items enumerated within said ordinance can be received by the elected officials affected by the ordinance. Any other reading would lead to absurd results.

In Part 3 we will discuss State’s Attorney Compensation…

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