To the Editor:
We are gripped in a great national crisis that is testing our resolve as a people to be our best selves again. This crisis demands that we do not only what is best for us, but what is right for our fellow neighbors and friends of the county.
Beyond the immediate tragedy of sickness and death, this pandemic has wounded our spirit, our security, and our sense of common purpose. Many of our friends and neighbors are faced with losing their jobs. Businesses will are on the brink of failure and schools are closed. This crisis is a testing of our nation’s spirit.
We as County Board members are doing our best to help ease the suffering of our community. We not only feel your pain, we and believe we can lessen it, if just a little.
We believe that the next few years will be a time of for county government to carry on with “business as usual” at this time. Your county government depends heavily on local taxes for its operating funds, and anything we can do to lessen that burden is simply the right thing to do.
That’s why we write today in support of two resolutions that are currently under review by the County Board. The first would mandate a 10 percent across-the-board salary reduction for all elected eligible county officials whose salaries are controlled by the board. The second would require County Board members and the Chairman to submit timesheets to document, their hours worked if they want to receive county supported health and dental insurance benefits. We support these measures because we believe in transparency and accountability of county government.
The right way out of this pandemic is to work together To fail that test of resolve now would be a tragedy. As elected leaders we must lead by example. A small pay cut for elected officials is not too much to bear. Each and every effort large or small that we all do can help to preserve people’s jobs.
Gov. Pritzker has projected that the pandemic will cause our state a $2.7 billion shortfall this year and a $4.6 billion shortfall next year. Our state struggles to fund a state-wide responses to the coronavirus or and provide financial assistance to county government. Local agencies that provide direct assistance for seniors and veterans, mental health care, and many other essential services have their services threatened.
As County Board members, we believe that our service should reflect the community’s values. We believe in shared sacrifice, charity, and simple decency. We hope that our fellow Board members will be encouraged to support the two County Board resolutions that will allow the county leadership to shoulder some of the burden of this crisis by reducing salaries and transparency in benefits. To do less seems heartless.
This pandemic is far from over. The time is right to do what is right.
Michael Vijuk and Paula Yensen
McHenry County Board District 1, McHenry County Board District 5