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Rutland Township officials ready for budget showdown over assessor salaries

Rutland Twp. assessor: Salary funding too low

HUNTLEY – Officials in Rutland Township expect a budget showdown this month over the money the property assessor uses to make payroll, after the township board went through a similar debate in February.

During a special meeting last week, the Rutland board transferred $15,900 within Assessor Janet Siers’ budget to help cover her employees’ salaries for the rest of Rutland’s budget year, which ends March 31.

Even with efforts made to control personnel costs, Siers said the transfers likely will not cover her payroll for the rest of the budget year – setting the stage for another spending debate with trustees.

Siers has said the board’s majority has unrealistic expectations for her office with a month left in the budget year, while some trustees have said the assessor hasn’t done enough to rein in spending on salaries.

“She didn’t do much about it. She should have laid off or cut people’s hours. Whether you run a business or at home, you don’t spend more than you have,” said trustee Charleen Carlsen. “It was not good planning on her part.”

Trustees transferred the $15,900 within Siers’ budget after the assessor exhausted her budget line-item for salaries by mid-February. The budget issue caused concern that Siers’ employees wouldn’t get paid and that her office would have to close.

Siers said she has maintained her overall $146,250 budget for the year, despite going over on salaries – a $103,000 line item requested by Siers at the start of Rutland’s budget year last spring.

Rutland Township has seen the most new construction activity in Kane County, causing more work for her staff, she said. The office includes one full-time and four part-time employees.

Arguing she has done enough to control salary spending, Siers said she laid off one part-time employee earlier this winter and has recently cut employees’ hours back since the snow cover prevents her staff from doing some property assessment work.

The budget transfer allowed her to pay employees for February but likely will run out after the first pay period in March, Siers said. Readying for another debate over transfers, Siers believes her efforts to control spending have been ignored by trustees.

“There’s a difference between fiscally responsible and cheap,” Sears said. “It’s not that we are slacking off. Everybody has an important job in this office, and it takes money to do the job.”

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