Burr Ridge officials to ask voters if they should be paid

Burr Ridge residents will be able to give their opinion this fall on whether elected village officials should be compensated.

An advisory referendum will be on the Nov. 4 ballot asking residents whether the mayor and trustees should get a paycheck from the village. The Village Board this week unanimously approved putting the nonbinding question on the ballot.

The referendum will ask: “Shall the Village President (Mayor), who receives a stipend of $6,000 per year, and the Burr Ridge Trustees, who receive a stipend of $3,000 per year, continue to be compensated?”

Although only an advisory polling of residents, the vote could have an immediate impact as trustees need to decide during their Nov. 10 meeting if they are going to change the compensation for trustees elected in 2015. Any decision made after the Nov. 10 meeting, would not go into effect until the 2017 village election, Village Administrator Steve Stricker noted.

Any change in public officials’ compensation cannot take effect until after an election is held for that position.

“We can only do an advisory question on this,” Stricker said. “We cannot do a binding referendum.”

As the village faces future year deficits, the idea of returning the mayor and trustees to volunteer positions has been talked about in recent months. The topic was once again addressed at a recent goal-setting session of the mayor and trustees.

Trustee Diane Bolos took exception to a recent statement by Mayor Mickey Straub in his Friday Wrap video when he said that the compensation discussion dominated the goal-setting session.

“I know the mayor likes to have the last word in his Friday Wrap,” Bolos said, “but one of the things he said is that the compensation discussion dominated the goal-setting session. Rich Panico (a Burr Ridge resident and owner of Integrated Project Management) expertly led the 3 ½-hour session. Our conservations did not focus on compensation. It is not fair to say that.”

Straub was not present at Monday’s meeting.

Former trustee Marilou McGirr was watching the board meeting on television and felt compelled to show up at the board meeting to give her feelings about the referendum.

“I am glad you want to find out residents’ opinions and are putting it on the ballot,” McGirr said. “I know some concerns have been raised about having this on the ballot … but with some of the financial concerns (that have been raised), it is right to get the feelings of the people.”

Stricker said because village ordinance calls for trustees and the mayor to be paid positions, no one opting to be a volunteer could turn down the stipend as the law now stands.

“Even if anyone did not want to accept it, they would have to take the money,” the village administrator said. “They could give it back, but they are still going to receive a 1099 (tax document) at the end of the day.”

Resident Dave Allen questioned how referendum success will be measured in the Village Board’s eyes.

“If the vote winds up with 111 for it and 109 votes against it, what happens?” Allen asked.

Marty Gleason, a Democratic precinct committeeman, asked the board to not put the referendum on the November ballot. He said he will be stumping door to door for candidates and would rather talk about the issues facing our country rather than answering residents when they ask about his thoughts on the compensation referendum.

He expects the referendum to be a slam dunk against compensation for village officials.

“No one wants to pay anybody,” Gleason told the Village Board. “People are angry at you and everyone else. They don’t want you, the police chief, the fire chief paid anything. I don’t agree with having the referendum now.”

Gleason said he likely will bypass the question when he votes in November.

“An advisory referendum doesn’t count. I wish you gave us a question that let us decide how we handle this,” he said. “And I wish you would let us talk about the real issue affecting the future of our country.”

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