By: Tom Robb
An article published by Forbes.com, which quickly caught our attention, said Glenview Village Manager Todd Hileman was the highest paid municipal employee in the entire Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) system.
The article was penned by the founder of taxpayer advocacy group For The Good of Illinois, and OpenTheBook.com, a database of municipal salaries using Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund data.
The author of the study said Hileman was not only paid more than any other municipal employee in the IMRF system that manages pensions of the vast majority of municipal employees, but he made more than Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who earned $216,210, and more than any governor in the entire country.
Although Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is independently wealthy, is only accepting $1 per year as a salary, Gov. Pat Quinn earned an annual salary of $177,411 that included free housing in the governor’s mansion, a Rauner spokeswoman said.
Taxpayer funds pay Hileman’s base salary of $240,000, but his total compensation package carried a total value of $296,408, according to a pay chart of village employee rates posted on Glenview's website for 2015. That includes a $7,200 car allowance and $18,000 in deferred compensation.
A few years ago, village trustees changed a key perk for Hileman. A home loan from the village went from being forgiven at a rate of $10,000 per year to deferred until Hileman is no longer a village employee.
So is he worth it?
When that very question was put to Village President Jim Patterson last week, he said "yes" without hesitation.
Pay, especially executive pay, is in part objective and part subjective.
There are metrics used to evaluate employees of any organization. When looking at village managers, many look at comparable communities. Pay can also reflect the confidence employers have in their employees. Hileman makes more than village managers on the North Shore or the Northwest suburbs.
Patterson pointed to the village's "sustainable financing" model. He discussed innovative cost saving programs and practices that came from Hileman such as bidding contracts jointly with other communities to benefit from economies of scale, and being a strong negotiator in contract negotiations.
Hileman also has a strong team behind him including his "number two," Deputy Village Manager Don Owen.
Glenview has benefitted from its Permanent Fund, money the village earned when it sold Naval Air Station Glenview to OliverMcMillan for millions after purchasing it from the U.S. Navy for $1 when the base closed.
Glenview finance officials discussed the fact that they compare their employees to those in the private sector, not necessarily to other municipalities, during a budget briefing for village trustees last month.
While understandable in the search for talent coming from the public or private sectors, it is also a reality that public money from taxpayers, not private funds, pay those salaries.
When a corporate board of directors of a private company decides how much to pay their CEO, they are only responsible to themselves and possibly their shareholders. As long the company remains profitable, there is likely not much complaining. Public employees are different.
While it is difficult to compare Hileman to a private sector employee, one municipal employee seems to face at least a similarly complex workload.
Ray Rummel is the village manager for Elk Grove Village. He not only manages affairs for 33,000 residents as Hileman does in Glenview, but also looks after the village’s massive business and industrial park.
At more than 60 million sq. ft., Elk Grove’s business park is the largest contiguous business park in North America. It has a vacancy rate of 6%, far lower than most in the O’Hare industrial market.
Glenview has held the line on property taxes, not raising them in years. So has Elk Grove Village.
Glenview trimmed its workforce, making the village run more efficiently. So did Elk Grove Village.
Elk Grove Village has also performed better in its key industry than any of its surrounding communities, a metric admittedly hard to quantify when comparing a more residential community to one with a large industrial park.
For this performance, Rummel takes home less than $200,000 a year with few extras and yet has similarly complex responsibilities in his community.
The village board sets Hileman’s salary. You, the voters, decides who sits on the village board.
If Hileman’s salary is what the market in Glenview will bear, then the response to this column should be muted.