It pays to be a top Bensenville administrator. And to be the village president’s son.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that nine employees of the Chicago suburb received pay raises of 10 percent or more from 2007 to 2008. The largest percentage increase went to Ryan Geils, son of Bensenville Village President John Geils. Ryan Geils, a director of the village-owned and operated Edge Ice Arena, received a salary bump of 21 percent, from $49,500 to $60,000.

Additionally, Vincent English, supervisor of streets, received a 20.7 percent increase, from $65,986.96 to $79,647.87; Gary Thorsen, director of community events and special facilities, got a 19.86 percent raise, from $71,749.98 to $86,000; Village Manager Jim Johnson’s pay went up 14 percent, from $106,510.97 to $121,510.97; Assistant Village Manager Steve Marshall’s salary increased 12 percent, from $103,558 to $116,058; William Moreth, an Edge Ice Arena employee, received an 11 percent increase, from $45,000 to $50,000; Police Chief Frank Kosman’s pay went up 10.17 percent, from $98,324.93 to $108,324.93; former administrative employee Anna Hendry’s pay increased 10 percent, from $50,000 t0 $55,000; and Public Works Director Paul Quinn got a 10 percent raise, from $99,079.55 to $109,079.55.

The Tribune noted that most non-union village employees received far more modest cost-of-living increases.

Perhaps Bensenville will ask for bailout funds next, because it is spending money like a drunken sailor, despite a sour economy that helped put Illinois’ unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, a half-percentage point higher than the national rate. Sounds like something AIG would do, and Bensenville officials know it, judging by the way they tried to hide the pay raises from the public:

The raises were awarded in December and made retroactive to May 1, which meant employees received lump sum payments for about seven months’ worth of raises. [Village Manager Jim] Johnson said the practice is common for the village and that employees like it because it seems like a holiday bonus.

The raises came to light recently when an anonymous source leaked a confidential memo detailing them to the Chicago Tribune and to Bensenville attorney Frank Soto, who is running for village president in the April 7 election against six-term incumbent John Geils.

Naturally, Soto made the pay increases a campaign issue — and rightfully so.

His campaign blanketed the community last weekend with fliers that said, among other things, “When was the last time you got a raise? Was it 21%?” and “Who’s in charge here? Bernie Madoff?”

“In a situation where the village has the amount of debt it does, the property tax increases that we have seen, the extra fees and the water fee increases we have received, I do think it is inappropriate that certain people close to the administration seem to be getting these rewards,” Soto said. “I think that is inappropriate in this economy.”

Darn right those excessive pay increases are inappropriate. Instead of a retroactive pay increase in the middle of a recession, I got laid off. And so did thousands of other Illinoisans.

But Bensenville apparently has plenty of money to spread around among its top-tier employees. I hope the Chicago Tribune is checking into whether Bensenville applied for stimulus funds. I suspect that extra money didn’t stop village officials from asking for a government handout.

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