Mayor Sandra Bury reignited her party’s attack on first responders by comparing her part-time salary with a fire battalion chief’s “total compensation”, which includes salary, overtime, back-pay, insurance, pension, and miscellaneous payments.
Bury’s post was similar to the her post in 2016, when the village released compensation figures for the previous year.
On January 22nd, 2016, Mayor Sandra Bury announced the release of the employee compensation figures for the previous year. In doing so, she highlighted the earnings of herself and a Fire Department Lieutenant.
Apparently feeling rewarded with a victory in her 2017 Mayoral campaign and total control over six Trustees, the Mayor once again dipped into the the bag of divisive tricks to rerun a popular although perhaps not totally true story.
In 2016, she wrote:
What did Village of Oak Lawn employees earn in 2015? In the spirit of governmental transparency, the numbers are posted. The highest paid employee was a Fire Lt. whose salary and benefits totaled $242,128.97. As Mayor/Village President, my salary and benefits totaled $47,992.68. The median household income in Oak Lawn is estimated at at $56,850.
In 2016 the original documents did not differentiate between base salary and payments such as overtime, back pay, etc. That posting led many residents to wonder how a firefighter could make $242,000. The Oak Lawn Leaf made a Freedom of Information Act request at the time for the detailed figures and the Village quickly released another document, showing that base salaries are much more modest, less than half the cited figure.
Social media followers seemed to be split on the issue with one poster noting that Bury is a part-time Mayor making $48,000, which he implied was outrageous for two hours of work a week. The village administration is run by Village Manager Larry Deetjen who earns a salary $169,236 and total compensation of $228,726.68.
Others asked “really”? Some questioned government leaders in general and noted that all public officials are “corrupt” in Cook County, which is probably not the response an elected official wants to elicit.
Others called for a limit on overtime after one resident noted that the high compensation was caused by overtime necessitated by the Mayor’s policy of not hiring firefighters and paramedics. Instead, the village has continued to pay as much as $3 million dollars in overtime through the Bury and Deetjen years.
In the end, the most relevant post may have come from one woman who asked, “Why is she posting this? Did someone challenge her or is she trying to make some point?”
Bury failed to mention that part of her compensation includes $6,912 for health insurance for a part-time job. In the past, Bury and her allies have promised to eliminate such benefits but obviously have not done so.
Once again, Bury’s political assertion is riddled with errors. While Bury claimed her total compensation was $48,000, the village’s own document shows her total compensation at $61,001.20 for 2018. Also, the village has used “Pension Benefits” of $76,586 as one item to increase the Battalion Chief’s Total Compensation.
Pension Benefits are received at the time of retirement and do not count toward current compensation. If the Battalion Chief retired today, it is likely that those benefits would become due in a similar amount listed. However, the village is only contributing 12.86 percent to the pension. In this case, that amount for the year would be $15,591.936 based on the employee’s base salary.