The DuPage County Sheriff’s Department brought its fiscal year 2015 budget request to the DuPage County Board this week, asking for $41.6 million to operate the department.
Speaking at the Finance Committee meeting, Administrative Bureau Chief James Kruse said the 2.9 percent increase over last year’s $40.4 million “represents a true maintenance budget.”
Included in the first draft of the budget is a $500,000 request for increasing the salaries of supervising lieutenants and sergeants, and that item sparked a lengthy discussion among County Board members.
At issue is the department’s patrol officers being unionized, but working under sergeants and lieutenants who are non-union. Officials at the Sheriff’s Department contend that the result of the existing pay schedule will be that ultimately patrol officers and detectives would be making as much or more than the people they work under, depending on the length of service of each employee.
“Supervisors are not being adequately compensated,” Kruse said stressing that the money spent would be “cost-effective and the right thing to do.”
County Board member Gary Grasso (R-Burr Ridge) pressed Kruse on how increasing supervisors’ salaries at a cost of $500,000 would actually be cost-effective.
“We can either do this now or we can spend $500,000 litigating the issue,” Kruse said.
Grasso asked if there had been a “strong suggestion” made by anyone that some type of financial demands will be made in the near future.
Sheriff John Zaruba said “there was movement about a year ago … they are underpaid. They just never got to the same level … people who they are supervising are actually beginning to surpass them.”
Zaruba backed up Kruse’s estimate that any litigation of the issue would cost about $500,000.
Complicating the issue is that the county’s own figures tell a different story about exactly how close sheriff’s officers and detectives are to their supervisors in salaries. The county’s figures acknowledge that for those with the most seniority the gap between supervisors and those they supervise is indeed small.
However, for the vast majority of those employees, the gap is much larger, approximately 13 percent, county officials said.
Several County Board members seemed comfortable with the concept of increasing salaries for supervisory personnel.
Peter DiCianni (R-Elmhurst) said he would much rather spend the money on manpower for the department than on costly litigation.
Jim Zay (R-Carol Stream) agreed and pointed out the realities of two-thirds of the employees under consideration being unionized.
“They’re saying we need a little help here,” he said, while stressing the strong possibility of some sort of collective bargaining. “Eventually they’re going to unionize.”
But with the Sheriff’s Department figures based on a 2012 study and the county figures painting two different pictures, County Board members wanted more information.
“The question is ‘what are the numbers,’” Bob Larsen (R-Wheaton) said of the discrepancies and the fact that the Sheriff’s Department was submitting two-year old figures.
Larsen said he wanted “the (pay) brackets and the actual numbers.”
Sam Tornatore (R-Roselle) agreed, saying, “I want to make a decision based on numbers.”
Both sides agreed that more up-to-date information was required to make a decision. The sheriff’s budget is scheduled to return to the County Board for discussion at its Sept. 16 meeting.Tags: DuPage County, DuPage County Sheriff's Department