Letter: Elected county officials shouldn’t get insurance

At the Sept. 21 McHenry County Board meeting, the County Board voted on two resolutions pertaining to the salary and benefit packages for all McHenry County elected officials.

The first resolution was aimed at the County Board members keeping the status quo in terms of salary and benefits. Currently, County Board members are paid a $21,000 annual salary and are eligible for full health and dental benefits which are offered to the county’s full-time employees. I disagree with County Board members who voted to retain this taxpayer-funded benefit, which can cost up to $28,000 per board member. Most of the board members own businesses, have prominent jobs, or are eligible to receive Medicare. Although most members do much more than the bare minimum required for this position (prepare for and attend four to five meetings per month), this does not qualify the members to earn the benefits that are only allotted to full-time employees. I am pleased that the annual salary was not increased, but I, along with my Democratic colleagues, have spoken out many times at board meetings in an attempt to eliminate the insurance benefits offered to County Board members.

The second resolution that was passed that evening awarded the other county-wide elected officials a raise followed by a guaranteed increase in the years 2026-2032. These officials will start receiving the lower of either CPI or 3% on a yearly basis. Just the payroll net increase over those seven years will cost the taxpayers approximately $185,000. No elected official should have a guaranteed increase year after year, especially since most of them also receive a $6,500 stipend from the state on top of their county salary.

This pandemic has shown the wage gap and inequity in our systems. Now is the time elected officials can strive to create a more equitable community. Eliminating the privilege of health and dental insurance and guaranteed raises for elected officials is a good start.

Kelli Wegener

McHenry County Board Member (D)

Crystal Lake