President Preckwinkle, County Commissioners vote 13-4 to give themselves a shameful and ill-timed 10 percent salary raise

Boykin calls the ordinance “a misuse of resources and an abuse of power”
(COOK COUNTY, IL – May 24, 2022) – Attorney Richard Boykin, Candidate for Cook County Board President, testified today before the Cook County Finance Committee urging President Preckwinkle and the County Commissioners to reject a proposed ordinance to increase the salaries of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and other elected county officials during a time when everyday citizens are hurting.

Ordinance 22-2825 would raise the salary of the Cook County Board President by 10 percent, from $170,000 to $187,000 annually. The Ordinance would increase the salaries of commissioners and the President automatically every year by three percent or CPI.

“I call on President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners to reject any proposal to raise their salaries, especially during the steep affordability crisis in Cook County. Last year, 90,000 residents fled Cook County for reasons of safety and affordability. County elected officials have a responsibility to the people of Cook County to use the budget to address the growing safety and affordability crises–not to increase their personal wealth on the taxpayer dime,” Boykin said.

The issue was first raised in fall of 2021 when the County Board approved a resolution to conduct a study of elected officials’ compensation and provide recommendations to the Board about potential compensation increases.

The resolution called for a market rate survey to compare Cook County officials’ salaries to those of other counties and determine if the current compensation is appropriate or if increases are warranted.

The Cook County Board initially introduced a proposed ordinance at its April 7 meeting that would increase the salaries of the elected positions. However, the salary increases were left blank with no dollar amounts provided, so the increases were unknown until a substitute ordinance was posted days before the Cook County Finance Committee was set to consider the matter on May 11.

Based on the proposed substitute ordinance, the salaries of the elected positions would each increase by 10 percent in the first year of the new term in office—FY2023 (beginning on December 1, 2022) for the majority of the positions, and FY2025 for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, whose current term does not end until November 30, Each year thereafter, the salaries would increase by another 3 percent or by the Chicago region CPI rate, whichever is less. These automatic annual increases would continue every year going forward until the County Board of Commissioners votes to repeal or amend the annual increase.

The proposed gross salary increases over the next four years as shown in the table below exceeds greater than half million, for the sum of $504,817. “Cook County Commissioners are part time public servants. Under the proposed ordinance salaries would rise from $85,000 to $93,500. This is unconscionable and the timing could not be worse given the current financial crisis and rising property taxes a disproportionate number of Cook County residents face. I urge President Preckwinkle to reject these pay raises and focus on providing relief for all residents of Cook County,” Boykin said.

County board officials today voted 13-to-4 in favor of the increase. Voting no were Commissioners Aguilar, Arroyo, Dennis Deer, and Sean Morrison.