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County Board member objects to employee bonuses

SYCAMORE – At least one DeKalb County Board member is questioning whether a decision to award bonuses to six employees was appropriate.

On May 1, the County Board’s Finance Committee voted, 6-1, to award $2,500 bonuses to six employees in the county finance office, a total of $15,000. Anthony Cvek, a Sycamore Republican from District 4, cast the lone dissenting vote and called the decision “ridiculous.”

“Nowhere in the budget was there approval for bonuses, and this is a bonus,” Cvek said.

Stephen Reid, a DeKalb Democrat from District 5 and chair of the Finance Committee, said the employees in the finance office worked 4 1/2 months without a finance director. The bonuses were awarded to them as a way of thanking them for doing more work as a result, he said.

Gary Hanson had been the county’s finance director and deputy county administrator before he was promoted to replace Ray Bockman as county administrator Dec. 1.

Hanson pointed out that the county had saved $56,000 from the position being vacant, and so it saved $41,000 even after the bonuses were awarded.

He said the finance office lacked a full-time leader in December, January and February, which are the busiest months of the year.

“They were really producing, and we were saving some money in the process,” Reid said. 

Cvek said he understood the desire to recognize employees for extra work, but he did not agree with taking money from the county’s budget reserves. He said the bonuses came at a time when local businesses are failing and people are out of work.

“My opinion is no, it should be returned to the reserves because next year isn’t looking any better,” Cvek said.

Hanson said the county budgeted for a financial director for Fiscal Year 2013. Because there was no financial director until Peter Stefan took the position in April 15, the county saved $56,000.

“By not spending that $56,000,” Hanson said, “we’re going to reward six employees $15,000.”

Cvek said he thought the board should discuss the bonuses at their meeting tonight even though they are not on the agenda. He intends to propose a resolution at the next finance committee meeting, which would stop any future bonuses from being awarded without approval from both the finance committee and county board.

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