YORKVILLE – The executive director for the Kendall County Forest Preserve District may be getting a pay raise and may be moving into the vacant Ken Pickerill house in the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve south of Oswego.
Kendall County Forest Preserve commissioners voted, 8-2, during their Tuesday, July 2 meeting to pass along a new job description draft for Dave Guritz, executive director for the district, that would include a 14.12% pay raise increasing his current $85,000 annual salary to $97,000. Commissioners Scott Gryder and Amy Cesich voted against the draft, which now goes to the Kendall County State's Attorney for review before returning to the commission for final approval.
The new job description includes Guritz assuming grounds superintendent duties, including overseeing grounds maintenance and custodial services at forest preserve district locations. The proposal also includes Guritz living at the Pickerill house and paying $913 per month in rent to the forest preserve district, which is the fair market value in Kendall County for a one bedroom apartment, according to commissioners.
Guritz said the creation of the new description draft stems from the forest preserve's budget limitations, since hiring another grounds superintendent is a little out of reach for the forest preserve currently after an unsuccessful candidate search and lack of employee retention for the position this year.
Guritz said he wanted to keep a balanced budget and, at the same time, keep up with public programs and facilities, maintain natural area restorations and open new areas to the public.
“It’s becoming more challenging for us to do that and to stay within our budget restraints,” Guritz said.
Guritz said there are efficiencies to be gained by him living on site, including it being a little closer to the forest preserve district headquarters, him being able to address forest preserve emergencies as they arise and getting the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve open. He said the goal of the proposed plan would help keep funds in check by him assuming some superintendent duties and living on site at the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve, which is anticipated to open next year.
Guritz said the proposed pay raise would cover rent costs to live at the house on the preserve, which is located east of Yorkville on Minkler Road.
Forest preserve commissioner Scott Gryder said he was initially in favor of the plan as it was presented on paper and that he liked the idea of more efficiency, but he didn't realize at first that it would come with a significant pay raise for Guritz. For him, he said, it begged the question of whether Guritz would be able to perform all of those outlined duties if he was asking for that much of a pay raise.
“I just feel like it would be too much for one person to be doing,” Gryder said.
Along with the move not really saving the forest preserve any funds, Gryder said, he was also concerned about what the increase would mean in the long term and the potential effects of an increased pension. Regardless, he said, he's trying to keep an open mind on the matter and is looking forward to fleshing things out a little bit more during the process.
Judy Gilmour, president of the forest preserve district, said Guritz is a hard worker who is dedicated and goes above and beyond his outlined job duties. She said she's confident that Guritz wouldn't have proposed the job description if he didn't think he could do it.
“There’s a lot of work to be done at the forest preserve district, and we have a lot of confidence in [Guritz] that he’s going to be able to do the job,” Gilmour said.