As most public officials know, an elected official’s compensation cannot be changed during the official’s term of office. With the 2015 local elections rapidly approaching, public bodies that want to increase or decrease the salaries of the officials who will be elected at the April 7, 2015 election must do so at least 180 days prior to the date when the elected officials would take office.
State statute says that the compensation of elected officers “shall be fixed at least 180 days before the beginning of the terms of the officers whose compensation is to be fixed.” 50 ILCS 145/2. The challenge with this requirement is that the date that elected officials take office following the election varies depends on the form of government and, at times, upon the public body’s receipt of the election results. For example, the Illinois Municipal Code specifies that terms commence “at the first regular or special meeting of the corporate authorities after receipt of the official election results from the county clerk…unless as otherwise provided by ordinance,” but then that ordinance cannot fix the date later than the first regular or special meeting in the month of June after the election. 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-15.
So, if a government body wants to modify the salaries of its elected officials, it will have have to compute the applicable date based on an estimated time for receipt of the official election results from the county clerk and the meeting date on which newly elected officials will be sworn in. Usually, the swearing in meeting happens in May, following an April election. As an example, if your board receives the election results in late April and holds its first meeting after receipt on May 4, 2015, the local elected officials need to be sworn in on that day and any ordinance increasing or decreasing the salaries of elected officials must have been passed by November 5, 2014.
Because the date on which newly elected officials take office is different in various communities, some careful effort should be taken to make sure the date of any salary change is early enough so that no challenge can be made to the action. Government bodies may want to contact their attorney if they are considering any compensation changes for their elected officials.