Illinois has 63,000 government workers making over $100K
High-priced government workers cost taxpayers in Illinois $10 billion a year, with municipal managers in areas surrounding Chicago reaping the most benefits.
Illinoisans are struggling under the highest property taxes in the nation, a declining population and the nation’s worst income growth, but one group is still doing pretty well – government workers.
According to OpenTheBooks.com, Illinois has 63,000 public employees making more than $100,000, costing taxpayers $10 billion. These government workers range from auto pound supervisors to corrections nurses to junior college presidents and more. One of the most lucrative government fields is that of village and city managers, many of whom out-earn every U.S. governor.
The 10 highest-paid village and city managers in Illinois are located in Cook County and the collar counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. These local officials are all are making more than $200,000 per year.
The village of Glenview has the highest-paid village manager at $297,988.45 per year. Grayslake, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Northbrook, Rosemont, Palatine, Schaumburg and Northfield round out the top 10, with city and village managers in those locales all making between $230,000 and $265,000. Rosemont was on the list twice, with two village managers making more than $245,000.
This is on top of the comparatively high salaries many Illinois mayors take in. For example, Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens makes $260,000 per year, while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee makes $289,000 annually and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has a salary of $238,000. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner makes $235,000 per year.
Rosemont taxpayers are on the hook for more than $750,000 for just three executive positions. In addition to Brad Stephens’ salary, the village of 4,200 has two village managers who both make six figures. Rosemont Village Manager Christopher Stephens – who is also Brad Stephens’ nephew – makes $249,231.46 per year, and Rosemont Village Manager Patrick Nagle makes $245,000.
Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar has an annual salary of roughly $150,000. Bolingbrook is partially located in DuPage County, where taxpayers are paying the second highest property taxes in Illinois and the 27th-highest in the country. Lake County – where village officials in Grayslake, Lake Forest and Libertyville are pulling in more than $200,000 per year – has residents faced with the highest property taxes in the state, and the 21st-highest in the nation.
Collar counties McHenry, Kane and Will rank fourth-, fifth- and sixth-highest in the state, respectively, and all are among the country’s top 35 counties for the highest median property taxes. Cook County residents are saddled with slightly lower property taxes, though still 67th-highest in the country.
These municipalities with high-priced executives also receive state aid through the Local Government Distributive Fund, or LGDF. Grayslake, for example, with a village manager making more than $264,000, received more than $2.1 million from state taxpayers in fiscal year 2016. Northbrook, with a more than $250,000 village manager, received more than $3.3 million. Schaumburg, with a village manager receiving nearly $240,000, received $7.5 million in LGDF funding.
The LGDF distributes money not based on need or any particular purpose, but simply based on each local government’s share of the statewide population. This sends state taxpayers’ money to locales that may not need it and also encourages local overspending – such as on high pay and benefits for local government employees.
Ending LGDF for populations over 5,000 could save the state $1.75 billion each year, and rein in spending that keeps local taxes so high. Additionally, local government and school district consolidation efforts could reduce costs and ease the burden on overtaxed residents in the Chicagoland area.
In the meantime, as Illinois taxpayers struggle with the one of the highest overall tax burdens in the country, and deal with personal income growth that lags behind neighboring states, government officials should take the initiative in exercising fiscal restraint and cutting the cost of government by reducing their own salaries. Taxpayers in Cook County, the collar counties and across the state of Illinois have been forced to bear the burden for too long.