As a nation, we are experiencing the greatest financial calamity since the Great Depression nearly a century ago.
Record numbers of people have been laid off from their jobs, others have been furloughed and still others have either had their salaries cut or their hours reduced. Millions now are wondering how they are going to come up with enough money to feed themselves and their families and still cover their next rent or mortgage payment.
Suddenly, all those grim pictures of Great Depression bread lines we saw in our high school and college U.S. history textbooks no longer look so removed and abstract as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.
So certainly now is not a good time for any local governmental entity to be handing out raises or boosting salaries – however modest and well deserved – for their employees. But, in fact, raises have been on the agendas this month for Kendall County government and the county’s largest government agency, Oswego School District 308.
After much debate, the Kendall County Board last week agreed to consider a vote on a proposal to increase the salary for the person elected county coroner in November. Currently, the only candidate for the position is the current coroner, Jacquie Purcell, a Republican from Yorkville. A board vote is expected on the pay hike June 2.
Meanwhile, the Oswego School District Board of Education voted, 4-3, May 11 to approve new contracts for its 95 school building and district administrators and 16 special education coordinators for the 2020-21 school year that include across the board salary hikes of 2%. The administrators had been under a salary freeze for three of the past five years, and a school district spokesman noted the 2% pay hikes are less than the 2.3% in the Consumer Price Index. Unfortunately, this is the same school district that has had to slash its budget, raise student fees after three failed tax hike referendums over the past two years.
With unemployment nationwide surpassing previous historic levels and property tax bills due to land any day in local mailboxes, now is not the time for the County Board, a local school board or any other local government agency to be handing out raises to its employees. Not only are the raises an additional expense at a time when local governmental agencies should be bracing for their own revenues to fall, they serve to send a message to taxpayers that the agencies are sorely out of touch with the grim financial realities that so many who must pay to support them are facing.