DuPage County employee salaries

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DuPage County employee salaries are public record under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Salaries

DuPage County officials did not respond to a public records request for data on county employee salaries, particularly those individuals earning more than $150,000 annually. Sunshine Review requested the information for the years 2008-2011.

According to a database compiled by the Better Government Association, there are 11 DuPage County employees earning more than $150,000.[1]

  • Frederic Blackfield, the chief financial officer, earns $162,782
  • Chris Kachiroubas, the circuit court clerk, earns $167,900
  • Director of Transportation John Kos earns $168,515
  • State's Attorney Robert Berlin earns $166,508
  • Chief Information Officer Donald Carlsen earns $150,000
  • Nancy Wolfe, first assistant state's attorney, earns $156,816.45
  • Stormwater Director Anthony Charlton earns $159,697
  • Coroner Jeff Harkey earns $153,509.7
  • Sheriff John Zaruba earns $167,298
  • Elizabeth Welch, convalescent center administrator, earned $150,512

Salaries for County Board Members are:

  • County Board Chairman Dan Cronin earns $127,840
  • County Board member Paul Fichtner earns $50,079
  • County Board member Rita Gonzalez earns $50,079
  • County Board member Donald Puchalski earns $50,079
  • County Board member Patrick O'Shea earns $50,079
  • County Board member Jeff Redick earns $50,079
  • County Board member Brien Sheahan earns $50,079
  • County Board member John Curran earns $50,079
  • County Board member Brian Krajewski earns $50,079
  • County Board member Michael McMahon earns $50,079
  • County Board member Grant Eckhoff earns $48,620
  • County Board member JR McBride earns $50,079
  • County Board member Debra Olson earns $48,620
  • County Board member James Healy earns $50,079
  • County Board member John Zediker earns $50,079
  • County Board member Dirk Enger earns $50,079
  • County Board member Robert Larsen earns $50,079
  • County Board member James Zay earns $50,079

Salaries for other elected officials making below $150,000 are:

  • County Auditor Bob Grogan earns $135,762
  • County Clerk Gary King earns $134,958
  • County Recorder Greg Bucholz earns $135,762
  • County Treasurer Gwen Henry earns $131,808
  • Darlene Ruscitti, regional superintendent of education, receives $30,112 from the county. Her total salary, which includes state funds, is $130,000.[2]

Benefits

According to the county web site, the county offers two choices of medical coverage, a Participating Provider Plan (PPO) or an HMO. The HMO plan provides 100% coverage and includes a comprehensive physician network, prescription and vision benefits. The PPO plan provides prescription and vision benefits, as well.[3]

DuPage County provides employees and their families income protection in the event of disability, retirement or death through IMRF. Generally, each employee contributes 4.5% of his or her gross salary to the fund. DuPage County also contributes to the fund.[3]

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[4] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[5]

For comparison:[4]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[6]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[7]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[8] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[8] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[8] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[9][10] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[6][5] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

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References