County Board says no to raise

Members detail sacrifices for county

Current Winnebago County Board members defeated—by a vote of 20-6—a resolution that would have instituted two pay raises for board members by December 2008.

The first salary increase would have boosted their compensation to $7,500 annually and included a 3 percent inflation adjustment, taking effect in December 2006; while the second increase would have boosted County Board pay to $10,000 a year and also included the inflation adjustment.

Chairmen of standing committees would have received $1,500 more, and chairmen of non-standing committees would have gotten $750 more a year. They also could have received insurance partially funded by the county.

But County Board member Angie Goral’s (D-7) motion to remove insurance from the resolution was approved by a vote of 16-9, with three members absent. If approved, according to the resolution, the county would have covered 60 percent of the family portion of health insurance benefits.

County Board members, age 55 or older who’ve served at least eight years, and their spouses would have been eligible for coverage. They would have entitled to the insurance until qualifying for Medicare, according to the failed resolution.

Voters were less than thrilled at the prospect of County Board members getting that benefit, given that’s only a part-time position, according to County Board member Karen Hoffman (D-11). County Board member Mary Ann Aiello concurred.

“Insurance is one thing that people cannot stomach,” Aiello said.

She noted there are part-time County employees who aren’t eligible for insurance.

County Board member Chris Johnson (R-4) seemed concerned about who’d get kudos, if the resolution were voted down.

“I don’t think the media should take credit for whether this is defeated,” Johnson said.

He said the County Board failed to present its case for the raises and benefits. Johnson joined a chorus of County Board members detailing sacrifices made in the line of service.

“We really do work hard,” he said.

County Board member Rick Pollack (R-13) lamented having less leisure time.

“My boat has been in storage,” Pollack said, adding County business also forced him to give up professional and educational opportunities.

He stressed the salary didn’t inspire him to join the County Board.

“This is a part-time job. We knew that coming in,” County Board member Mary Ann Aiello said.

Aiello also stressed that if a member is working “full-time” hours, that’s his or her choice.

County Board member George Anne Duckett (D-12) said several heart attacks made her thankful for County insurance.

“There’s no way I’d vote against anybody getting insurance,” Duckett said.

She said it doesn’t take much effort to oppose the insurance offering.

“It’s easy for people to sit back and tell you what you don’t deserve. Everybody needs insurance,” Duckett said.

Discussion veered toward the cost of doing County business. County Board member Jim Webster (R-2) said he earns $102 a week. Webster said County Board members will spend so much on gas they’ll be paying to serve.

From the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue

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