TAZEWELL, COUNTY — Staff in the Tazewell County Clerk’s Office are getting pay raises and some county board members said County Clerk John Ackerman made a bad decision.
Tazewell County board chairman, David Zimmerman said just a couple days after they finalized the budget Ackerman announced that his employees would be getting raises.
Board members said Ackerman encourages transparency, but said this move was deceiving.
“I’ve never seen my board as angry as they are now. He withheld that information because he knew this would be controversial. Tazewell County has the second-lowest tax rate in the state of Illinois and it’s because we don’t make foolish decisions like that,” Zimmerman said.
Ackerman said 47 percent of his employees will see a 9 percent pay increase, while five experienced professionals will receive a two percent increase and two managerial employees will get a 13 percent raise.
One of his employees will see a 60% raise. This position specifically is the election supervisor, a position that has been reclassified and will begin Dec. 1.
He adds that none of this will increase his pay and all the money for the staff pay raise will be covered by the current County Clerk Fee Funds expenditures.
“This wasn’t brought up before the budget was finalized because it doesn’t have an impact on the bduget at all, it’s not an item that’s drawn from the budget,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman also said the staff pay raises won’t affect property taxes.
“This revenue that I’m using for the increase this is not reliant upon property taxes. The property owners of Tazewell County will not see this influence in their property tax rates in any way. This revenue comes from the fees that are accessed by our office for services that we deliver,” he said.
Zimmerman said eventually Ackerman will run out of money, he doesn’t believe the fee fund can be sustained with the new pay increases.
“We may have to have layoffs in that office next year, that’s a decision that John Ackerman will have to make, but we have control over the budget so if we cut his funds for salaries, layoffs may insue because the money’s not there,” Zimmerman said.
Ackerman disagrees adding that with this expenditure of 90,000 dollars more revenue will be coming in than expenses going out. He said the fund has grown from 135,000 dollars to over 500,000 in the past five years.
In addition, he said that there is a proposal before the board for a fee increase, referring to the fees from the county clerk’s office.
“Rather than buying a new piece of equipment I’m investing my employees and I believe that my employees are going to perform to this new standard to the new rates that are there. I believe they have already been performing to those rates, they’ll finally get wages that are reflective of the work that they do,” Ackerman said.
He said he appreciates the board members’ viewpoints and wants to work with them, but he works for the citizens and will make sure to report to them.