CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County College Board failed to approve a raise for administrators for a second consecutive month, delaying a proposed merit plan trustees had discussed for months.
After a monthlong tug-of-war between board members pushing for raises as low as 2 percent or as high as 3 percent, trustees could not agree on a plan that would give 38 administrators a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment retroactive to July 1 with a potential to earn higher compensation based on performance.
Board chairman Ron Parrish said he was not in support of an alternative flat rate as it would mean more deserving administrators would miss out on a larger raise while others may receive more than they deserve.
"We are cutting back the amount we could give them," Parrish said of choosing a flat rate over merit-based system.
Under Parrish's proposed plan, total increases would not exceed what is equal to a 3 percent raise per administrator, leaving the possibility of some receiving large increases while others might receive nothing more than the cost-of-living adjustment depending on performance.
While the 1.7 percent increase would act as the floor, administrators could receive up to a 6 percent increase – the legal limit under the pension system – but that would mean others would receive nothing in addition to the cost-of-living adjustment to assure the total amount permitted for raises is not exceeded.
Raises would be a one-time bonus payment or a permanent increase to salary bases. MCC President Vicky Smith would make the final determination on the amount of the raise, but the merit-based process has not yet been established.
Trustee Molly Walsh said she would rather approve a flat 2.75 percent increase for administrators this year while a more detailed merit plan is worked out for next year.
"I'm not a big fan of merit pay," she said. "I don't think it increases morale. I think it separates people out."
Smith – who is not part of the administrative group set for a raise – had pushed for higher salaries for her administrators after losing people in recent years because of competition from surrounding schools.
Smith said of the six comparable area institutions, such as Rock Valley Community College and College of Lake County, McHenry County College faculty make an average of $3,400 more than their peers while administrators make an average of $19,000 less than their counterparts.
Trustees will attempt to approve a plan on their third attempt in August.