Elgin's corporation counsel, who makes $216,000 a year, is exempt from city furloughs
The second-highest paid employee of the city of Elgin, like a handful of others, is exempt from citywide furloughs implemented last week, documents show.
Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley's salary is $216,788 per year, second only to City Manager Rick Kozal, who makes $219,384 per year. Both are eligible for additional pay such as longevity pay and car allowances.
Kozal implemented the furloughs because of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are to be taken as unpaid vacation days through the end of 2020, were effective May 11 and equate to 10% salary cuts for city department heads and 5% for other salaried employees. The measures don't affect union employees and sworn personnel in the police and fire departments.
Kozal took the furlough, so his salary this year will be about $203,000. Police Chief Ana Lalley and Fire Chief Robb Cagann are exempt because they are sworn personnel. Lalley's salary is $187,270 and Cagann's is $169,859.
Besides Cogley, who is the head of the legal department, the other exceptions are four supervisors in the 911 call center who regularly fill in for 911 operators, and the parking control supervisor and the victim assistance coordinator, both of whom interact with the public.
When asked why Cogley is exempt, Kozal said Friday, "The corporation counsel is both the front line and backstop for the entire city organization, and the coronavirus pandemic is imposing an outsize demand for the vitally important work and guidance that office provides."
Cogley didn't respond to a request for comment.
Some employees in the parks and recreation department and Hemmens Cultural Center were furloughed starting in late March or April. The citywide furloughs were announced by Kozal in a May 8 email to city staff members that didn't mention any exemptions.
"Those of you in the highest positions within the organization -- our department heads -- are being called on to lead by example," Kozal wrote. "Knowing you have pursued careers in this industry because of the greater calling that is public service, each of you implicitly understands the heightened obligations that come with your positions."
On May 11, city officials told the Daily Herald some salaried employees were exempted and gave the 911 supervisors as examples. Kozal outlined the full list of exemptions, including Cogley, in a May 12 email to city council members.
Mayor David Kaptain declined to comment, saying the city manager is in charge of personnel decisions. Kaptain said he chose to take a 10% cut to his nearly $17,000 mayoral salary through the end of the year in the wake of the furloughs.
"It was a personal decision. Everyone else can make their own," Kaptain said. City council members' salaries are about $11,000.
The Daily Herald obtained the emails via a Freedom of Information Act request asking for all emails sent to or from Kozal regarding furloughs. The city denied release of some documents "due the fact that they are attorney-client privileged communications" and exempt under FOIA.