Several Rock Island County park rangers and officials will be getting raises after forest preserve commission members Tuesday approved salary increases for six employees.
Commission president Kai Swanson said the salary adjustments will take effect for fiscal year 2019, on July 1, 2018.
Forest preserve district director Jeff Craver said the forest preserve district and the county are two separate operating entities. As such, the district establishes salaries for appointed officers.
"This is in response to a compensation survey that Mr. Craver undertook to realize where we are glaringly out of (salary) alignment," Swanson said. "It’s also a recognition that over the last 12 to 18 months, we have asked a lot more from each one of these people, not just in terms of performance, but in planning. It’s a one-time boost."
Loud Thunder ranger Ben Mills will receive a $4,000 increase to his annual salary of $60,171; Illiniwek ranger Michael Petersen will receive a $4,000 increase to his salary of $57,412; Indian Bluff golf course superintendent Jay Verstraete will receive a $4,000 increase to his salary of $64,179; Indian Bluff golf clubhouse manager Todd Collins will receive a $4,000 increase to his salary of $49,941; Niabi Zoo maintenance superintendent Scott Hesselberg will receive a $4,000 increase to his salary of $49,772; and Niabi Zoo guest services manager Scarlet Behrens will receive a $5,044 increase to her salary of $42,433.
Commission member Rod Simmer agreed with the pay increases.
"We have lost some people because we aren’t paying similar to other places," Simmer said. "This saves us from having to rehire and retrain. They are already good people; we’d rather keep them on board. It’s reasonable and in the norm."
Also on Tuesday, commission members approved $11,000 in funding to complete construction of a giraffe shade structure at Niabi Zoo.
Robert and Blenda Ontiveros donated $40,000 to the zoo in November for construction of the shade umbrella in the center of the giraffe exhibit. It will replace the existing shade structure, deemed inadequate for the giraffes.