Kane raises could get greater board review
By Matt Brennan For The Courier-News August 26, 2012 8:32PM
GUS STUERTZE / SPECIAL TO THE COURIER NEWS Mug: Karen McConnaughay. 10/02/03
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:18AM
A revision to county policy requiring more communication between the board and the county chairman in the issuing of department head raises cleared its first hurdle last week.
The amendment to county code requires department head raises to clear standing committees, the executive committee, and be approved by the full county board. It was approved by the administration committee, and next goes to the finance and public services committees.
The change stems from a lawsuit brought forth by Jim MacRunnels against County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay, accusing her of violating the county code by issuing raises to 13 department heads without board approval.
Administration Committee Chairman Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, was pleased with the revisions to the code.
“I think we’ve got a system that that accounts for checks and balances,” Frasz said.
The current code is more ambiguous regarding the requirements of the chairman in setting the raises, according to assistant state’s attorney Joe Cullen, who recommended that the board make some changes to clear up confusion on the matter.
The matter went to the administration committee following an executive session at the full County Board meeting earlier in August, where they determined they wanted further clarification on the matter, and sent it back to be evaluated at the committee level.
Members of the administration committee were pleased with the changes, saying that it gave more people a say in a decision that involved taxpayer dollars.
“We want to have an active hand in what’s going on,” Committee member Monica Silva, D-Aurora, said. “This would give us an ability to do that.”
Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, was also pleased with the revisions. The chairman should be responsible for having the raise conversation with each committee, she said.
Opinions on the MacRunnels lawsuit itself varied greatly. Holly Lindgren, D-Carpentersville, was upset that MacRunnels immediately resorted to the courts, rather than give the county board a chance to revise its code.
“I’m hoping that a resident would come to us and ask us to make those changes rather than hiring an attorney and suing us,” she said.
Board member Bonnie Kunkel-D Aurora called MacRunnels a patriot, and said that the lawsuit should go a long way in taking power from the chairman, and handing it back to the board.
“The board must retain this power,” she said.
If the revision passes the other committees, it could require the next chairman to communicate more frequently with the committees on this particular issue.