BLOOMINGTON — Many rank-and-file McLean County employees lost their raises for 2018, but elected officials still will get theirs thanks to a legal quirk.
Six full-time officials and the County Board will continue to get 2 percent annual raises under a state law that prohibits municipalities from changing an elected official's pay immediately before or during their term.
That means the soonest the county could stop elected officials' raises is 2019, and then only for officials on the ballot in 2018. Officials already elected to serve through 2020 will continue to receive annual raises until at least 2021.
Combined, the raises will cost the county $13,951 next year. That total would rise each year as the increases compound, but it could change if any more raises are discontinued.
Officials estimate the county will save about $600,000 per year by canceling raises indefinitely for employees who aren't in unions. Corrections, dispatch and highway employees are guaranteed raises this fall under union contracts, but those could end after their deals expire Jan. 1.
Board member Chuck Erickson questioned the distinction during a meeting of the board's finance committee last week.
"My concern here is just the optic of it, telling employees, 'Hey, you can't have a pay increase,' but at the same time County Board members are having a pay increase," he said.
"(Pay) has to be set before the County Board member takes office. You can neither increase it nor decrease it," replied Assistant State's Attorney Don Knapp.
McLean County elected official salary changes for 2018 are:
• County Board members, $4,805 to $4,900.
• Auditor Michelle Anderson, Coroner Kathy Davis, County Clerk Kathy Michael and Treasurer Rebecca McNeil, $98,255 to $100,220.
• Circuit Clerk Don Everhart, $103,224 to $105,289.
• Sheriff Jon Sandage, $106,284 to $108,410.
Thirteen of those officials are on the ballot in 2018: McNeil, Michael, Sandage and half of the 20-member board.
McLean County also elects a regional superintendent of education and state's attorney — now Mark Jontry and Jason Chambers, respectively — but their salaries are set by the state.
The county is working to eliminate a $1.5 million budget shortfall for 2018 caused by cuts in state payments and falling local revenue. That includes offering early retirement buyouts, which 15 employees took as of last week; about 20 jobs will be cut overall.
"The staffing reductions ... will likely result in longer lines for service, expanded automated phone answering and requirements for appointments for some types of county services," said County Administrator Bill Wasson.