Outgoing Algonquin road commissioner takes home $47K in sick leave
Bob Miller, outgoing Algonquin Township highway commissioner, slapped the administration with a parting gift — a bill for more than $47,000 in unused sick leave, according to the McHenry County Blog.
Miller, who lost his re-election in the primary and will be replaced by Republican Andrew Gasser, presented the township administration with a $47,381.84 bill for the sick days he accumulated over decades of public service.
Larry Emery, a township trustees who called attention to the payout, told the McHenry Times it comes at a period of widespread mismanagement of public funds.
“There are a lot of hidden expenses and we have to get rid of those,” Emery said. “It is just something that we have to work around with government. We need to open the books like other organizations do and get out of the expenses that aren’t fair for the average taxpayer.”
James Kelly, legal counsel for the township, said Illinois law requires Algonquin to pay the bill.
In a township meeting, Miller said accrued the unused sick time while working as an hourly employee before taking on the commissioner role. From 1972 to 1993, Miller racked up more than 263 days of sick leave.
Under a rule promoted by Miller's father and predecessor, Del Miller, hourly employees are allowed to "cash in" unused sick days, according to the McHenry County Blog. Miller replaced his father as commissioner in the early 1990s and changed the rule two years later.
Emery said this is not only a budget issue, but also a nepotism issue.
“It’s not illegal, it’s not fair, but if you have a moral compass, you don’t do it,” he said. “But, that’s not how things are established in the government.”
Miller maxed out his Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension, so he opted for the township to take the sum in cash instead of rolling it into his pension.
Miller isn't the only roads employee entitled to a payout. Staffers Doug Helman, Daniel Newman, Tim Shepherd, and Randy Voss have similar payments coming to them, though all but Voss opted to rollover their funds into their IMRF pensions.
Voss, who is maxed out on the IMRF fund like Miller, opted for a cash payout of the amount owed to him.
Gasser did not return requests for comment.
Pension-related debt in Illinois costs state and local government billions of dollars. According to a recent study by the Illinois Policy Institute, the bill for public employee retirement benefits is an ever-growing crisis with the share of the cost to the public exceeding roughy $56,000 per household.