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Census decline means pay cut for state’s attorney

McDonough County State's Attorney Matt Kwacala
McDonough County Republicans
courtesy photo
McDonough County State's Attorney Matt Kwacala

The McDonough County State’s Attorney will receive a significant pay cut beginning July 1, 2022. The change is tied to the county’s population loss.

According to county officials, the state of Illinois sets the salaries for state’s attorneys and covers two-thirds of the cost.

The state established one level of pay for the state’s attorney in Cook County, which is by far the state’s most populous county.

It set two other pay levels for all other counties: one for those with more than 30,000 residents and one for those with fewer than 30,000.

According to the latest census, McDonough County’s population has dropped below 30,000. That means State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala’s pay will tumble from around $183,000 per year to more than $145,000.

The county board officially approved the change during this month’s meeting.

Changes for the public defender and sheriff too

The state also pays two-thirds the cost of the public defender’s salary if a county agrees to set it at 90% of the state’s attorney’s pay. So the salary for McDonough County Public Defender Stephanie Hilton will drop from more than $164,000 to $131,057.

Meanwhile, County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes said new legislation in Illinois declares the sheriff’s salary shall be 80% of what the state’s attorney’s is paid. This means McDonough County Sheriff Nick Petitgout will receive a hefty pay raise from $80,909 to $116,495.

DeJaynes said it is not yet clear when that change takes effect. She said the state also pays two-thirds of the sheriff’s salary.

Pay for other county officials

The board also approved the salaries for several other office holders. The county engineer will be paid $120,000. That took effect May 10, 2022.

The county treasurer and county clerk will each be paid $65,000 per year beginning December 1, 2022, which is when the new terms for those offices begin.

The supervisor of assessments will be paid $57,000. That salary also takes effect on December 1, 2022, which is the start of a new term for that office.

The county board chairman received a 5% pay raise to $1,090 per month. County board members will continue to be paid $50 for each meeting they attend.

Census figures

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that McDonough County’s population was 32,612 on April 1, 2010.

The figure dropped to 27,238 on April 1, 2020, and the bureau’s population estimate for the county on July 1, 2021 was 26,828.

More census details for McDonough County can be found here.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from  readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.