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Local News

Forest preserve commission OKs new executive director job description

Accompanying pay raise to be voted on in future meeting

YORKVILLE – The executive director for the Kendall County now has a new job description, but it remains to be seen whether he will get an accompanying pay raise.

The Kendall County Forest Preserve Commission voted, 5-3, to approve a new draft job description for Dave Guritz, executive director for the district, during the commission's meeting on Tuesday, July 16 at the Kendall County Office Building, 111 W. Fox St. Commissioners Tony Giles and Matt Prochaska were absent from the meeting.

Leslie Johnson, assistant state's attorney for Kendall County, said during the meeting that the agenda item for the job description was separate from the proposed 12% salary increase for Guritz. She said a simple majority vote from the commission would be enough to approve the new job description alone.

The new job description includes Guritz assuming grounds superintendent duties, including overseeing grounds maintenance and custodial services at forest preserve district locations.

Guritz said it's not about any potential savings to the district, since the accompanying pay raise would be a wash for the forest preserve. He said it's one way the forest preserve would be able to stay within the forest preserve district's budget.

"I’m trying to present a solution that doesn’t really have a good one, necessarily, from that standpoint of putting it all on one person," Guritz said. "But I’m also willing to take that on."

Other items that were initially on the agenda for the Tuesday, July 16 meeting included the approval of a proposed salary increase for Guritz from $85,000 to $95,200 effective July 20, along with Guritz living at the Pickerill house and paying $913 per month in rent to the forest preserve district. The agenda also included an item for a proposed revised organizational chart for the forest preserve district, including the elimination of full-time superintendent, part-time rental venues coordinator, part-time environmental education coordinator and part-time resident and grounds maintenance.

Judy Gilmour, president of the forest preserve district, said those items were removed from the agenda during the meeting because she wanted to wait for the full board to vote on those items. She said she anticipates the other agenda items to go before a vote during the next scheduled commission meeting.

Commissioners Amy Cesich, Scott Gryder and Matt Kellogg opposed the new job description and voted no on the agenda item.

Cesich said she thinks Guritz is doing a great job in his current position now and her issue isn't with his performance, from what she has seen so far.

"If you were honest about this, I think it’s just too much to put this responsibility on you," Cesich said.

Cesich said the onus is on Guritz to not only oversee another entire full-time position but absorbing a full-time position that, at one point, he said was important to fill to the commission previously.

"I don't think that it's true, but that's the perception that's out there," Cesich said.

Not only does the new job description entail too much, Kellogg said, but his main concern is what would happen under the new job description if something happened to Guritz or if he would otherwise have to take leave.

"I have got to see the whole contingency thing, because I’m really about what happens when somebody steps out or somebody steps up and who steps up without us having to stipend them or if it’s already in their job description," Kellogg said.

Gryder also said he thought the proposal was putting too much on Gurtiz's shoulders. He said Guritz was hired to come up with financial solutions for the forest preserve and, if he was able to do his day job a little bit better, maybe the forest preserve commission wouldn’t be in this position where they can’t afford a grounds superintendent now.

Gryder said one example that comes to mind is Ellis House and Equestrian Center losing more than $50,000 in revenue, according to fiscal year 2019 projection data. He said that's almost the dollar amount that the commission has talked about that's needed in hiring a superintendent of grounds, which was about $60,000.

"I need him to do his day job and I don’t see that right now," Gryder said. "Adding this extra position to him just doesn’t make much sense."

Commissioner Audra Hendrix said the equestrian center is one outlier among the other programs that are doing well under Guritz's supervision. She said one would look at a weak area that might add to costs in any business.

"But even if we stopped the $40,000 loss, that doesn’t solve the fiscal problem they’re in — it stops the $40,000 loss," Hendrix said. "That’s not enough to make up for what we need."

The next forest preserve commission meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 6.

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