(CBS) — They’re public employees, but they’re also members of “The $200,000 Club.”
More than a dozen town administrators in Cook County are getting big salaries and perks — in some cases within communities with financial challenges.
CBS 2’s Irika Sargent asks: Is pay for public employees getting out of hand?
In Elgin — a city of 112,000 with a 14 percent poverty rate — meet Rich Kozal, a longtime employee promoted to village manager, at $224,000 a year.
“The more you pay, the more they want, and they keep getting it,” says Jenny Heidenreich, who has lived in Elgin for 60 years.
Kozal’s deal includes a $600-a-month car allowance and a $15,000 contribution to a second retirement plan.
There was opposition to his contract.
Elgin Councilwoman Tish Powell voted against it. Powell says: “Salary and compensation benefits, all of that really needed to be discussed, and unfortunately, it wasn’t.”
Andy Shaw with the Better Government Association says these high earners have to be held accountable.
“These individuals are managing my money and your money, these are our tax dollars,” he says.
Elgin’s latest annual report shows the city’s expenses exceeded revenues by more than $15 million.
“If he hadn’t gotten it here, he could have gotten the same pay from somebody else,” Elgin Mayor David Kaptain says.
In Rosemont, village officials say their community of 4,200 — with a nearly 30 percent poverty rate — is run more like a business.
Pat Nagle, who oversees the Allstate Arena and Rosemont Theater, gets paid $245,000. Christopher Stephens, executive director of the Convention Center, earns $250,000.
“You have to ask the question: Are the taxpayers overpaying for under-performance?” Shaw, the BGA official, says.
In 2015, profits for the Allstate Arena were down 14 percent, and the Rosemont Theater was down 36 percent; the Convention Center, down 42 percent.
The Rosemont mayor is Christopher Stephens’ uncle, Bradley Stephens. He says, “The enterprises are doing very well. They actually throw off a lot of money to the general fund to cover a lot of those costs.”
Budget-wise, Glenview, with a population of 47,000 and a low poverty rate, is doing well.
The village manager, Todd Hileman, earns the highest compensation package in Cook County: $334,000.
Hileman’s perks include a car allowance, a second retirement plan and a no-interest housing loan. He also got $63,000 in unused time off and bonuses.
“I think we’ve been awarding excessively high salaries with extraordinary benefits, extraordinary perks,” Shaw says.
Glenview’s board president says Hileman is worth the premium pay because he is better than other village managers.
Rosemont will have a new member of The $200,000 Club — Mayor Bradley Stephens — if he is re-elected next year. The board recently approved a 53 percent pay raise.
For a spreadsheet comparing salaries and compensation of community leaders, click here.