Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress is suggesting an increase in the sheriff's pay for the next term of office.
According to county records, the sheriff earns $73,000 annually, but Childress said in an interview this week he believes the sheriff is underpaid compared to those in other counties. His office is proposing a raise to $100,000.
Under state law, the County Board must decide on the salaries of elected officials at least six months before their terms begin. For county officials, terms start Dec. 1, so salaries must be set by June. Those amounts set by the County Board cannot be changed during elected officials' terms.
Sheriff's Chief Deputy Earl Dutko appeared before a county board oversight committee last month to request the higher salary.
In an interview, Childress stressed the requested amounts are for the position, not the person, noting voters will decide on who is the next sheriff.
Asked why he had a deputy make the request, Childress said he seeks raises for others in the department, but he said "it doesn't seem right for a guy to ask for his own raise."
"It seemed better to have someone who doesn't have skin in the game," he said.
Jack Wiser, Childress' opponent in the March 20 Republican primary, said if he were sheriff, he would personally go before the committee with facts and figures if he thought he needed a raise.
"To ask for someone below him in rank to request a raise for the sheriff is ridiculous," he said.
He said he didn't have a clue about the sheriff's salary until he saw a story in the Pontiac Daily Leader about the issue last month.
"I thought it was around $60,000. I didn't care," Wiser said.
Childress said the Livingston County sheriff is underpaid compared to those in McLean and Grundy counties. On the other hand, he said, sheriffs in La Salle and Bureau counties need raises.
According to public records, the sheriffs in McLean and Grundy counties make $101,000 and $106,000, respectively. The sheriffs in La Salle and Bureau counties get less — $77,000 and $72,000, respectively.