Franks proposes salary cuts for McHenry County officials

 
 
Updated 5/11/2020 6:24 PM

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has proposed cutting the salaries of most elected officials by 10 percent as the county faces immense losses in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news release Monday, the Marengo Democrat said it is only fair that elected officials take a pay cut, given the amount of county residents who have had their salaries reduced or who have lost their jobs entirely.

 

If approved, Franks's resolution would reduce the salaries of all county board members as well as the county's board chairman, auditor, circuit clerk, coroner, county clerk, sheriff, and treasurer, according to the news release.

"Our constituents and businesses are being forced to make some very painful decisions regarding their budgets, and we have to as well -- there are no sacred cows in a national emergency," Franks said in the news release. "County government will not make up for its lost tax revenue on the backs of the taxpayers."

His announcement came shortly after the county projected revenue losses of up to $22 million for the 2020 fiscal year. These projections are based on the impact that coronavirus shutdowns have had -- and will continue to have -- on property taxes, motor fuel taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and other economically sensitive revenue items that the county depends on, the report by Director of Finance Kevin Bueso stated.

Board member Michael Skala, a Huntley Republican who is head of the board's finance committee, said he had a number of concerns with Bueso's projections.

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"I felt that the numbers were greatly distorted," Skala said.

The report projects a 12 percent reduction in property tax revenue for 2020 in three of the four recovery scenarios outlined, resulting in $8 million in projected losses. Skala said he believes the reduction in this year's property tax revenue will be much less drastic than that.

He also pointed out that the next two budget lines projected to be hit hard by the pandemic -- the motor fuel tax and the county's portion of Regional Transportation Authority sales tax -- are used to fund county road projects and do not support operational costs.

"So we may need to delay road projects but it's not like it's impacting the day-to-day operations of the county," he said. "When you take those things out of (the report), that number decreases greatly."

If Franks' resolution passes, salary reductions would take effect on Dec. 1 this year or Dec. 1, 2022, depending on when the current term of each office ends. The state Constitution states that governments are not allowed to change the salaries of elected officials during their terms.

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