State gives sheriff a raise

Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing

While the Monroe County Board of Commissioners set the salaries of several elected county officials during its meeting on Monday, the greater interest involved an official whose salary was not set by the board.

Board chairman Dennis Knobloch announced the passage of Illinois legislation in April that puts the salary requirements in the hands of state statute rather than individual counties as it has been in the past.

Public Act 102-0699 sets the salary of Illinois county sheriffs at a minimum of 80 percent that of the respective county’s state’s attorney salary.

The salary for the Monroe County state’s attorney, based on population and also set per state statute, is currently $183,435 per year.

In short, beginning Dec. 1, 2022, the annual salary for the Monroe County sheriff will increase almost $62,000 from $84,963 to $146,748.

The funding for county sheriffs will also change. 

Two-thirds of a county sheriff’s salary in Illinois will now come from the personal property replacement tax, with the other one-third from the respective county.

Commissioner Vicki Koerber pointed out the new law will help the county’s bottom line on its budget, but noted the state-wide funding mechanism still uses taxes collected in Illinois.

“We’re all paying into it,” Koerber added.

Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing told the Republic-Times the change has been a goal of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association since before he was first elected sheriff in 2014.

Rohlfing said the ISA wanted to address the pay disparity of sheriffs in smaller, rural counties in Illinois who make “considerably less” than their counterparts in mid-sized and larger counties.

He said the sheriffs and their departments in Illinois  are responsible for more than just law enforcement.

In Monroe County, Rohlfing pointed out the sheriff’s department is charged with maintenance of county buildings including the jail, sheriff’s department office and courthouse as well as the Monroe County Annex and Regional Office Education buildings. 

The sheriff’s department is also responsible for animal control and assists with emergency management agency duties.

Rohlfing suggested the ISA chose comparable law enforcement management positions, such as municipal police department chiefs, as a baseline for the  sheriff’s salary schedule. 

Salaries for the police chiefs in Waterloo and Columbia fall in the $100,000-$110,000 per year range. 

Rohlfing said the passage of the law after over a decade of lobbying by the ISA may be related to Illinois police reform legislation passed in 2021.

He said he has noticed “anything law enforcement related in the last (legislative) session passed,” while also noting that 2022 is an election year. 

The new law does not affect sheriff’s deputy salaries, but Rohlfing pointed out in some counties deputies can make more than the elected sheriff with overtime.

The base rate for a Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Deputy is set at $70,739.76 as of the last contract in place. Rohlfing said this figure does not include 14 days during which the department uses “holiday pay.”

As for the salaries the county board still sets, the Monroe County clerk, treasurer, supervisor of assessments and commissioners will each get a 3 percent raise from previous annual salaries beginning in December.     

These salaries will be adjusted for the three subsequent years at the rate of increase in the consumer price index, with raises capped at 5 percent annually. 

If the CPI were to be negative, the positions’ salaries would remain the same as the prior year.

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