By Bob Balgemann


Salaries for some elected officials only can be set every four years. The Belvidere city clerk and treasurer are two of those affected and the surrounding discussion Aug. 22, about their pay, divided the committee of the whole.

Ultimately, the committee in a 5-3 vote, with two absent, recommended a series of increases for the clerk during the period 2017-2020.

When it came to the treasurer, a part-time position, a similar motion failed in a 5-4 vote. Mayor Mike Chamberlain broke the 4-4 tie by voting no.

More discussion is expected Sept. 6, when the committee sits as the city council.

How the clerk’s pension is figured and her current salary, $60,101, opened the topic on Aug. 22. The current clerk, Shauna Arco, said the pay had been frozen for the past four years.

Alderman Clint Morris said he did not see the current salary included with the agenda information, but noted the recommended rates of pay for 2017-2020 were there. He wondered about the percentage of increase.

Finance and Budget Director Becky Tobin said it initially was 10.4 percent.

“It would be 13 percent over the next four years,” Alderman Ron Brooks said.

“One percent for each of the following three years,” Director Tobin interjected.

Morris said he thought taxpayers scoffed at a 10 percent increase (for 2017-2018) and 13 percent over the next three years as “being a little bit sizable. I know I did. I would like to digest that before the next meeting.”

At that point, Mayor Mike Chamberlain tried to provide some perspective for those numbers.

“It’s a 13.5 raise over eight years,” he explained.

The clerk’s salary was frozen for four years, “so she received no increase while other city employees did,” he said. “So, that’s less than two percent a year over eight years.”

That caused Brooks to say he was leaning at whether one percent was sufficient.

“I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

There was accompanying information as to the salaries of clerks in five nearby cities. Loves Park’s population of 23,996 in 2010 was closest to Belvidere, which had 25,586 residents during that count. Loves Park’s clerk is paid $72,572 a year, the study showed.

Here are the others with their population figures and clerk salaries: Rochelle: 9,574 people, $72,363 salary; Dixon: 15,733 residents, $64,709 salary; Sterling: 15,310 in population, $71,712 salary; and Streator: 13,710 residents, $71,197 salary.

Machesney Park, with 23,499 residents in 2010, was not included in the report.

The clerk’s recommended salary in the coming years is $66,356 effective May 1, 2017; $67,020 starting May 1, 2018; $67,609 effective May 1, 2019; and $68,367 beginning May 1, 2020.

Aldermen Morris, Clayton Stevens, and Mark Sanderson opposed the motion to accept the recommendation. Support came from Aldermen Daniel Arevalo, Wendy Frank, John Sanders, Snow and Brooks. Aldermen George Crawford and Tom Ratcliffe were absent.

Treasurer’s position

More discussion occurred when it came time for the treasurer’s salary, currently about $5,000.

In response to a question from Alderman Morris the current office holder, Ric Brereton provided an overview of his responsibilities.

Director Tobin said Belvidere is a small governmental entity and as such has difficulty with a separation of duties.

“So far of us are doing to many different things,” she said. The treasurer, an extra person who’s accountable for things, “helps provide more separation for those duties.”

As proposed, the treasurer’s salary would increase to $5,520 on May 1, 2017; to $5,575 in 2018; to $5,631 in 2019; and to $5,687 in 2020.

After Morris said he thought the pay was adequate for that job the committee deadlocked 4-4 on the recommendation to approve the increases. Support came from aldermen Arevalo, Frank, Sanders, and Brooks with opposition from Morris, Snow, Stevens and Sanderson.

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