Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Take home pay of Madison County officials is four times higher than average worker, thanks to current salaries and pension payments

By Ann Maher | Sep 9, 2016

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Four county officials and a state senator from Madison County combined earn close to $1 million annually in current salary and pension payments, all funded by taxpayers.

The top bread winner is State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) who will take home approximately $230,823 this year, most of which comes from an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension he draws from the 26 and a half years he was employed by the county before going to Springfield.

Haine's salary as lawmaker is $76,366.08, plus a $5,653 stipend. His annual pension, which will keep growing by 3 percent each year due to cost of living adjustments, is $148,804.

The second highest paid elected official in Madison County is Circuit Clerk Mark von Nida whose salary is $107,206, plus a state stipend of $6,500. He also receives $82,113 in IMRF pension benefits for having served as county clerk prior to being elected to his current position in 2012. His total compensation is $195,819.

Sheriff John Lakin currently earns $109,844, with a state stipend of $4,000. He also receives $77,534 in pension benefits for having served as chief deputy sheriff before his election in 2014. His total take home is $191,378.

County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza earns a $105,830 salary. She also receives a $74,608 pension for prior employment in the county including as assessor. Her total take home is $180,438.

Coroner Steve Nonn earns a $109,990 salary, plus a state stipend of $6,500. In addition, he receives a $46,333 pension for having served as deputy sheriff. His total take home is $162,823.

The total salary of these five is $961,283. The average annual earning is $192,256.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for workers in Madison County is approximately $46,000; the average annual salary for Illinoisans is $60,000.

Pension reform advocate Jared Labell, director of operations for Taxpayers United of America, said that given the state's vast number of taxing bodies - 7,000 - a "legion" of government retirees has been created.

"The costs of salaries, benefits, and pensions for these government employees and retirees are both massive and not as widely known by taxpayers, although they should," Labell said.

He called the practice of allowing government retirees to collect pensions while working for the government in a different capacity a "poor practice."

"Retirement should mean retirement," Labell said. "Taxpayers should not be forced to pay the pensions of rehired government retirees until they are completely retired."

Labell called the situations of Lakin and Nonn, who are getting paid to work in the same departments from which previous employment allows them to draw a pension, are not rare in Illinois.

"It's common practice for officials to retire from positions in law enforcement, only to accept new titles in the same or other departments after retirement," he said.

He said that the same is true for von Nida and Ming-Mendoza, who shifted to different county offices after "retirement."

When von Nida was running for the position of Circuit Clerk in 2011, he told supporters he would not collect a pension while serving as circuit clerk, according to an article in the Alton Telegraph.

Von Nida said his pension is going to his ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement. 

"Quite frankly, the divorce is a personal tragedy," he said in a statement. "I found out that the pension that I earned as County Clerk was joint property with my ex-wife. By law she had a claim on it and we settled for her to collect it while I  was still working."

Still, Labell said that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay twice for government employees' retirements.

"The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund is only propped up by local property taxes, forcing property tax hikes to maintain this veneer of solvency," he said.

"The fact is, Illinois is in a financial mess, and so are its thousands of taxing bodies. Residents of Madison County are sadly facing a threat similar to their fellow taxpayers across Illinois, which is dire."

Other instances of government officials doubling up on take home pay by holding different positions include Alan Dunstan, who earns $103,168 as county board Chairman and another $28,454 as Jarvis Township Supervisor, for a total of $131,622.

Robert Daiber earns $110,217 plus a $6,500 state stipend as Regional Superintendent of Madison County schools and another $12,100 as Marine Township Supervisor, for a total of $128,817.

Frank Miles earns $98,321 as head of the county's Community Development agency and $26,000 as Edwardsville Township Supervisor for a total of $124,321.

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Taxpayers United of America