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BLOOMINGTON — As one group of McLean County employees gets a small raise this month, officials are planning to restore pay increases to other employees as well.

County emergency dispatch employees will get a 0.5 percent raise effective May 27, a $350 bonus and 1.75 percent annual increases in 2019 and 2020 under a contract approved by the County Board on Tuesday.

The board also approved an early piece of its 2019 budget that paves the way for other employee raises, said Assistant County Administrator Don Knapp, though those remain contingent on the new state budget.

"When (the board) instituted the (2018 pay) freeze, they added language to the budget policy. ... All of that language has been taken out" for 2019, said Knapp. "Our direction from County Board members has been to go create a budget as we normally have done, which would anticipate salary increases. ... There's no promises because we don't know what the state's going to do."

Dispatchers are the first of three bargaining units the county works with to reach a new deal after all three expired Jan. 1. They got 2.75 percent annual raises in 2016 and 2017.

"I think the County Board would say it's not unreasonable to ask our other bargaining units ... to share in the same pain that all of our employees share," said Knapp.

The board also delayed a decision on pay for the county auditor, now Michelle Anderson, starting in 2020. Members agree pay should be reduced after three of the auditor's four employees moved to the treasurer's office Jan. 1, but they disagreed about how much.

"I'm not sure how I'd explain why we're making this salary reduction at this amount," said board member Carlo Robustelli, who asked to send the proposal back to the board's finance committee. Officials considered reducing the pay, which is now about $100,000 per year, by $10,000 or $25,000.

Officials hoped to change the salaries for all six county elected officials whose pay they control at the same time, but only three were due for updates Tuesday: county clerk, sheriff and treasurer, now Kathy Michael, Jon Sandage and Rebecca McNeil, respectively. Those offices are on the Nov. 6 ballot and must have salaries set six months in advance of a new term under state law.

The board approved temporary pay freezes for those three positions but also added a $15,000 public safety stipend to the sheriff's salary to keep it competitive with nearby counties of similar size. Members increased that stipend from a suggested $10,000 to reflect the sheriff's responsibilities.

“That position is enormous, and the new jail is making that position even bigger,” said board member Scott Murphy.

Officials plan to approve future pay freezes for the circuit clerk and coroner, now Don Everhart and Kathy Davis, to make the percentage increases across all six offices roughly equal between 2019 and 2022.

County Board members also froze their own salaries for terms starting this fall. They previously froze salaries from 2016 to 2020.

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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