By Adam Andrzejewski
CEO, For The Good of Illinois
March 21, 2011
Nothing short of heroism is chronicled below.
A courageous citizen demands accountability from his hometown and wins tens of thousands in savings for taxpayers.
Last fall, a resident of Palatine started questioning his municipality. His interest was piqued because property taxes were hiked, village fees were hiked, a brand-new electric consumption tax was instituted and officials were complaining that the red-light cameras were not producing enough ticket revenue. Then, the village manager forecast a future of higher taxes in his annual letter.
The resident just wanted to know a simple answer: the total 2009 compensation of the village manager. The inquiry was arduous. The results were stunning. The entire cash and non-cash compensation package amounted to an initial estimate of $351,000, then revised to $355,000, and click to review the now re-revised estimate of $338,400 plus.
In 2009, on base salary alone, the village manager out-earned every governor of the 50 states. Overall, there were over twenty “buckets” of compensation including a $35,000 cash bonus, taxpayer funded car, and five insurance programs: 90% paid medical, dental, prescription, life and short/long term disability. A sixth insurance program was discovered- taxpayers were funding long-term care insurance. LT care insurance provides for custodial care in a private home, adult daycare setting, assisted-living facility, or nursing home.
Annually, the village manager was “buying back” unused vacation days for an additional $10,400 of comp. The contract provided complete legal insulation beyond that required by federal, state, and local law. Stunning perquisites like taxpayer funded health club dues. In addition to the village payment into the pension plan ($21,500), an additional deferred compensation retirement plan payment of $14,500. A severance package equal to a full year of base salary, insurances, and car package is triggered if ANY of his financial compensation was reduced on an individual basis.
In reaction to the local and national scrutiny, the village has temporarily scaled back some of the Palatine Perquisites. For 2011, the village manager’s contract has approximately $45,400 of “forgoes”. These mutually agreed temporary adjustments are not permanent strike-outs. For 2012, the manager doesn’t even have to negotiate the “forgoes” back into his contract- they are already in place. There are $1,400 of permanent deletions and an oral promise to delete $5,700 more.
-Temporary “forgoes” include the 2010 $35,000 bonus (payable in 2011), and the 2011 “cashing in” of vacation days (saving approx $10,400). As discussed, these benefits are not deleted from the 2011 contract, just a mutually agreed rescission for one year. Click to review 2009 contract and 2011 contract.
-Permanently deleted from the contract is the health club membership (saving $1,400/annually).
-Promised future savings include the disability and long term care insurances (approx savings $5,700). In a meeting with the manager and mayor, both orally promised that these premiums will not be taxpayer funded any longer. However, the 2011 contract does not reflect this.
For contract year 2011, citizen scrutiny has saved taxpayers $45,400 in temporary “forgoes” of compensation. Permanent contractual savings is minimal: $1,400 (health club). An oral promise to save the $5,700 (disability and care insurance) has been made.
Even under intense local and national spotlight, Palatine hasn’t reformed. When the citizen pressure comes off, most all the compensation package returns. Palatine is “waiting out” real reform. Therefore, even after over 50 hours of study, consultation with private sector executive management consultants, and a sit down meeting with the mayor and manager, our latest compensation valuation is still not completely accurate.
In fact, Palatine hasn’t even released all the relevant public information. Palatine refuses to release the taxpayer liability regarding the village managers accumulated sick days. The freedom of information act request (FOIA) was rejected. Other towns in Lake County fulfilled this request. For this manager, we anticipate that taxpayers are on the hook for $10’s of thousands of additional comp.
A simple solution exists, Palatine must “Open the Books”.