A letter to the editor published in the Bureau County Republican was the subject of a heated debate at this week’s Bureau Township Board meeting.
Supervisor Gary Novotny began the meeting by reading from the letter by David Andersen, which read, in part, “The Bureau Township Board of Trustees plan to vote on increasing salaries to be paid to all the township officials of Bureau Township for the upcoming term of 2013-17.”
“I don’t recall, Mr. Andersen, that we made any reference to salaries whatsoever,” Novotny said to Andersen, who was one of five members of the public in attendance.
Andersen began to respond.
“I haven’t opened up the floor just yet,” Novotny said.
Novotny said the board had not discussed salaries.
“First of all, it would have been illegal for us to have any discussion about it because it wasn’t on the agenda, and so I’m not quite sure where you got this comment of increasing salaries,” Novotny said.
Andersen said Novotny said at the October meeting the salaries would be changed at the November meeting.
“I didn’t make any comment they would be changed,” Novotny said.
Looking at her notes, township clerk Sharon Meisenheimer said the term used was “set,” not changed.
Novotny said everybody has their own opinion, but Andersen shouldn’t have made such comments in the newspaper.
“When you make comments like this, in editorials especially, those comments should be accurate,” Novotny said.
“They were,” Andersen replied.
“No, it’s not,” Novotny said.
Novotny said there has been no discussion of modifying salaries.
“For us to increase salaries, and then for us to go out and ask for a tax increase, I’m not quite sure that’s in the best interest for our township to do something like that,” Novotny said. “First of all, we’d have to require 10 percent of the signatures in the township to have a petition, and then it would have to be voted on.”
Andersen said the board could increase taxes by levying for higher salaries.
Andersen then asked when the agenda for Monday’s meeting was posted. He said he came by the township building at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and the October meeting agenda was still posted. Novotny said he posted the November agenda sometime Sunday morning.
Andersen, said that according to Illinois statue 5 ILCS 120/2.02a, agendas must be posted 48 hours in advance. The meeting was held on Monday.
“This meeting can’t be held because the agenda was not up at least 48 hours before this meeting,” Andersen said.
“This meeting is legal,” Novotny replied.
Andersen said the board couldn’t take action on anything on the agenda and violating the law would be a Class 3 misdemeanor.
“The state’s attorney has until Jan. 4, 2013, to file charges. Any actions taken this evening will be null and void, according to state law,” Andersen said.
“The meeting will still proceed,” Novotny said.
Novotny read through the current list of salaries township officials receive.
As supervisor, he receives $4,500 plus $45 per meeting for a possible total of $4,980. Meisenheimer receives $3,000 plus $40 per meeting for a possible total of $3,480. Road Commissioner Daryl Wooden receives $20,000 plus $40 per meeting for a possible total of $20,480. Trustees Daniel Rabe, Ron Swanson, Kent Mathew and Gary Monier each receive $40 per meeting.
There was no discussion after Novotny read the salaries.
“As far as my personal salary as supervisor, I’m not requesting any increase,” Novotny said.
Meisenheimer and Wooden also said they were not requesting any increases.
The board unanimously approved keeping the salaries the same for the upcoming term.
Elections will be held April 9, 2013.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.