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Judiciary raises spark County Board debate

GENEVA – Debate about county salaries continued Tuesday when the Kane County Board approved a budget adjustment tied to new collective bargaining agreements for judicial employees.

Judith Brawka, chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, recently completed negotiations with AFSCME Local 3966 and Teamsters Local 330.

A 3.7 percent yearly increase for four years was agreed upon for union employees in the court services, judiciary and public defender bargaining units, she said.

Additionally, a 6 percent one-year raise was set for nonunion employees with the intent to include another 6 percent increase in the 2015 budget, Brawka said. She noted the 6 percent included a 2 percent raise the county already approved.

Multiple factors contributed to the increases, including the restructuring of the Juvenile Justice Center's education program and a goal to bring salaries more in line with those offered by other counties, she said.

In some situations, Brawka said, experienced employees in Kane County are making less than what other counties offer as a starting rate for comparable positions. With a nearly 20 percent turnover rate and training costs, she said, "We're throwing away money."

But board member Doug Scheflow, R-Elgin, who in April voted against awarding 5 percent raises to nine county directors, said he couldn't agree with a 14.8 percent increase over four years and a 12 percent increase over two years.

The raises are, he said, "too much of an increase."

Board member Mike Kenyon, R-South Elgin, disagreed.

"If you don't pay them, they won't stay," he said.

Board member Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, said the situation is similar to that in the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, which has made progress in making salaries more competitive.

Board member Jesse Vazquez, D-Aurora, also noted his support but said he is concerned about the long-term liability.

"It's not just the one year," he said.

According to agenda documents, the budgetary impact is about $377,000. In a separate resolution, a revenue adjustment of nearly $600,000 was made due to an allocation by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

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