For the Good of Illinois

The Times, Ottawa, IL: 'Hands tied' on official's pay

November 6, 2015 01:35 PM
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'Hands tied' on official's pay

Posted: Friday, November 6, 2015 1:35 pm

David Giuliani, davidg@mywebtimes.com, 815-431-4041

The La Salle County Board this week granted a $2,500 raise for the head of a veterans agency, but a few members spoke out against it.

Martin Rue, the superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission, will receive $74,000, up from about $71,500.

Officials said Rue will make about $10,000 more that countywide elected officials. But they said the state essentially requires the county to "rubber stamp" the commission's decision on the superintendent's salary.

"We are charged with oversight of finances, but have no control," County Board Chairman Jerry Hicks, D-Marseilles, said at Thursday's board meeting. "It's out of control in my opinion."

County Board member Sandi Billard, R-Oglesby, said she would vote no, saying the raise is more than what county employees received in increases.

"I'm not voting against Mr. Rue or our veterans," she said.

However, County Board member Russell Boe, R-Ottawa warned against voting no.

"I don't know if it would be in our best interest to vote down this recommendation," he said. "Our hands are tied."

He said he may have a different opinion if the state passed legislation giving the county power over the veterans superintendent's salary.

"This is dictated to us. We put a rubber stamp on it," Boe said.

The board voted 20-5 for the increase. One member abstained.

The raise applies for the next year. Some members questioned whether it would still apply if Rue left his position within the next year. No one could say for sure.

In 2001, Rue made $43,000, according to the Open the Books website. If his pay had gone up with the rate of inflation, it would be $57,000 today.

In an interview, Rue, who didn't attend the board meeting, said when he started in his job in 1985, he made $18,000, far lower than what county elected officials made. Whatever the case, he said he wasn't an elected official, but someone appointed by the veterans commission. 

 

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