OREGON — The Ogle County Board chairman and vice-chair will be seeing a significant bump in pay after the board approved a new salary structure at its last meeting.
The chairman had been paid $4,800 per year, which included $250 per month for the position, plus the $150 per month other board members made. The chairman will now make $25,000 per year, plus mileage. The vice-chair will be paid $5,000 plus mileage.
Marcia Heuer, who represents District 8 and is vice-chair of the Personnel and Salary Committee, said that every 10 years the board can adjust its pay. She said the committee started looking at the issue last year and found that the Ogle County Board was “vastly underpaid.”
Heuer said they did a comparison on pay with similar county boards. She said the research showed the pay in Ogle County was “way low.”
“All of them paid their chairman considerably more than what we did,” she said.
She said the workload on the chairman, vice-chair and those who chair all the committees is high. With no county administrator, the elected board members are responsible for areas including human resources, finance, personnel and more.
The new pay includes $100 for committee chairs and $75 for vice-chairs for committee meetings. All County Board members will be paid $70 per meeting they attend plus mileage.
Board Member Skip Kinney this is a change because members will be required to attend the meetings to get paid. In the past, members were paid monthly for three meetings whether they attended or not.
“You absolutely have to do your job,” Heuer said.
Can the county afford these changes? Heuer said it can. The change was only made after the committee looked at the numbers, and County Treasurer Linda Beck did a cost analysis.
“That was the one big question,” Heuer said.
Another question for the committee was should the county return to having a county administrator. Heuer said there have been two in the past, with one being very good at the job.
“It was so much easier running the county,” when there was an administrator, she said.
A professional administrator, who would cost the county from $120,000 to $150,000 per year, would be well versed in state and county policies and legal requirements. There is also dealing with the EPA, OSHA, strategic plans, the nuclear plant – it is a long list, according to Heuer.
Ultimately, she said the money just isn’t there currently for an administrator.
“It’s under consideration,” she said. “It has been for a couple of years. We just can’t afford it right now.”
While the measure for the pay increase did pass, Board Members Zach Oltmanns, Dean Fox and Lyle Hopkins voted against it.