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Local News

Kendall County Forest Preserve District chief awarded temporary stipend

Forest preserve commission also approves Pickerill house leasing agreement

YORKVILLE – Instead of a straight salary increase, the Kendall County forest preserve district's executive director will be getting a temporary stipend.

The Kendall County Forest Preserve Commission voted 6-1 to approve the stipend for Dave Guritz during their special commission meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the county office building. Commissioners Amy Cesich, Matt Kellogg and Tony Giles were absent from the meeting.

Judy Gilmour, president of the forest preserve commission, said Guritz's salary will remain at $85,000 and the stipend – which includes an extra $392.30 per pay period effective Aug. 23, 2019 and ends Nov. 30, 2020 – comes after Guritz incurred extra duties after the district had a hard time filling the agency's superintendent position. She said it was an alternative to the originally proposed salary increase for Guritz to $95,200, which would have been retroactive to July 20.

"It's to compensate Dave [Guritz] for the work he's doing," Gilmour said.

Forest preserve commissioners have said the salary increase would have been to help cover Guritz paying $913 per month in rent to the forest preserve district, which would be in line for fair market value for a one-bedroom apartment in Kendall County.

The commission also voted, 6-1, to approve a two-year lease agreement for Guritz to live in the currently vacant Ken Pickerill house in the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve south of Oswego. The initial monthly rent payment for Guritz to live at the house will be $913 but is subject to change according to future county housing authority payment standards, and Guritz also will have to pay a $1,000 security deposit to move into the house.

Forest preserve commissioner Scott Gryder, who voted against the stipend and the lease agreement, said the math has been fuzzy all along with the salary increase initially being meant to cover those rent payments.

"There are not any savings to the forest preserve by doing this," Gryder said.

Gryder said looking at a temporary stipend makes more sense than an across-the-board raise, but he said he was concerned about the commission voting on it during a special meeting that others who are also skeptical of the proposals couldn't attend. Gilmour said she wasn't aware of the absences when she scheduled the special meeting and she wanted to have the matters resolved after the commission spent a lot of time on the proposals.

The update comes after the commission previously tabled the vote regarding Guritz's pay raise during their Aug. 6 meeting and voted to approve a new draft job description for Guritz during their July 16 meeting. The new job description includes Guritz assuming grounds superintendent duties, including overseeing grounds maintenance and custodial services at forest preserve district locations.

The commission initially took a line item off of the Aug. 6 meeting agenda about a proposal for the district to eliminate its currently vacant full-time superintendent, part-time rental venues coordinator, part-time environmental education coordinator and part-time resident and grounds maintenance positions. The item was not on the agenda for the Tuesday, Aug. 13 special meeting.

Guritz said there are good reasons why the stipend and lease agreement needs to happen, especially with the goal to open the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve by next year. Overall, he said, living on site will give him a couple more hours to put in the work to make that targeted opening date happen.

"I've just got a lot of work to do and this makes sense," Guritz said.

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