Woodford officials choose 1-year plan

Nick Vlahos GateHouse Media Illinois

EUREKA — One year at a time.

That's how the Woodford County Board decided to handle pay raises for nonunion employees under its purview.

Those workers are to receive a 3½-percent salary increase retroactive to Dec. 1. During its meeting May 22, the board approved that raise unanimously.

Last year, the board approved an identical raise for the union members who account for about half of the county's 50 or so full-time employees. That increase was part of a contract that calls for 2½-percent pay raises in each of the next three years.

Instead of replicating that four-year deal, the board decided to consider nonunion pay hikes annually. According to board member Terry Pille, that would aid the yearly budgeting process.

"We're trying to treat our county employees fairly, whether nonunion or union," he said. "We have good employees. We've let this lapse too long."

According to colleague Mike Hinrichsen, the annual review also would provide maneuvering room in case of an economic meltdown like the one in 2008.

"The world changes very, very quickly," he said.

Annual pay reviews for nonunion workers had been standard practice, board member Tom Janssen indicated.

There was some confusion about whether any pay raise could be approved. Although the topic was listed on the meeting agenda, no written resolution accompanied it.

"Is this discussion for nothing?" board member Shannon Rocke said.

That issue was resolved, but Rocke appeared to caution against significant future deviation from the union deal.

"As soon as you start a drastic change in pay between employee groups, either they'll unionize or they'll leave," said Rocke, who shared Pille's concern about fair treatment.

The board also approved a resolution that called upon the Illinois General Assembly to approve legislation allowing concealed carry of firearms anywhere in the state.

Janssen and Larry Whitaker voted against the resolution because neither considers county input appropriate.

"It's the state's job to make state decisions, and it's the county's job to make county decisions," Janssen said.

Under federal-court fiat, the state has until June 9 to enact concealed-carry legislation. Illinois is the only state without it.