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Ellis' Salary Highest of Village Managers Throughout State

Grayslake Village Manager Mike Ellis earns more than Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, according to the conservative organization For the Good of Illinois.

Grayslake’s Village Manager’s salary is the biggest of any city manager’s salary in the state of Illinois. According to a new study by the conservative leaning public interest group For the Good of Illinois, the salary of Grayslake Village Manager Mike Ellis comes out to $259,252 yearly.

According to the study, Ellis is one of seven city managers who makes more money in salary annually than does City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel’s salary was $216,200 last year. City managers from Schaumburg, Highland Park, Skokie, Gurnee, Northbrook, and Glenview also made more money than Emanuel last year.

Grayslake Patch emailed Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor, along with each of his six trustees but none returned the email for comment. A call to Grayslake Village Hall was also left unreturned. In the past, Grayslake officials have told Grayslake Patch privately that Ellis does such a superior job that he deserves his salary.

Bruno Behrend, Executive Director at For the Good of Illinois, scoffed at that notion.
“What they (politicians that award big salaries to city managers) always tell you is, ‘this guy’s doing avery fantastic job,’” continuing, “you know what, there’s plenty of city managers that do a good job and they do it for less money.”

While Behrend said he was unfamiliar with Ellis’ record specifically, he said that For the Good of Illinois ran an analysis of Grayslake’s village budget and the growth of spending increased significantly under Ellis' tenure. Total wages of Grayslake employees has increased from $4,483,758 in 2005 to $5,192,139 in 2010, he said. While Grayslake boasted in the past of reducing full-time staffers, Behrend said that Grayslake has gone from 10 part-time employees to 128 over the last four years.

Appropriations for Grayslake went up exponentially in the last five years, from $21,946,925 in 2005 to $68,300,297 in 2010. The operating budget, however, rose only marginally in that time period, from expenses of $14,785,124 in the 2007/2008 budget to expenses of $15,569,293 in the 2010/2011 budget.
Behrend said the citizens of all villages should understand that exorbitant salary increases for City or Village Managers and other city employees mean higher property tax rates for city homeowners.

While the Mayors of Chicago suburbs are the top politician in any given locality, it is the job of the village manager to run the village on a day to day basis. While Grayslake’s Mayor is a part time position, the Village Manager is a full-time position.

Softball Jim June 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM
" The public employee should be happy with whatever raises they get even if it is zero at times" that was your quote. They should be happy getting zero/no raise at times. Is this because they are public employees? Why can't they fight for better pay? Why can't they fight for better working conditions? Don't public employees deserve the same as private sector employees? I still fail to see the difference between what you quoted and my version of what you said. Still want to know what non-truths I have stated?
Local June 06, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Okay Jim, where do you get you're facts....from Homey by the sound of it. Several analyses of average wages and benefits in the public and private sectors show that state and local government workers earn more than private sector workers. According to the most recent Employer Costs for Employee Compensation survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2009, state and local government employees earned total compensation of $39.60 an hour, compared to $27.42 an hour for private industry workers-a difference of over 44 percent. This includes 35 percent higher wages and nearly 69 percent greater benefits.
Sandra Sims June 06, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Of course, and it only makes sense. Public entities aren't businesses, and aren't run as such. Businesses have to make profits in order to increase pay. Villages, school boards, etc can just tax the citizens in order to increase pay, whether things are going well or not. And I don't know about the Village Board, but the school boards in Grayslake are certainly in bed with the Superintendents. Look at the HUGE salary increases they are getting. And of course the 6 figure pensions they will get. We will end up paying for those too. At some point, it has to stop. I'm not willing to lose my home to taxes so that Catherine Finger can make 300 grand a year to oversee two schools. It's sickening and out of control
kathy anderson June 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Totally agree. A quarter of a million dollar salary to run a small town is steep. I'm also not completely convinced that he's doing the best job either. Personally I'm not pleased at some of the recent decisions made in this town. Many people have left Grayslake because of those decisions. We will probably leave as well. It's really a shame too because with a little thought and vision this town could have been great. It's not the worst but it's also not great.
kathy anderson June 06, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Grayslake has changed over the years and I don't think it's for the better. The schools were significantly better 10 years ago with better teachers and a more professional feel. Now we have teachers who don't seem to be motivated in their job and a definate dumbing down of the curriculum. I also think Mke Ellis pulling in a QUARTER OF A MILLION dollare salary is ridiculous. So what if he balanced the budget....It's his job to do that. I'm not that impressed with some of the decisions made by this village either. Good people have moved away from Grayslake and will continue to do so because this village lacks quality vision. I seriously never understood why the citizens of Grayslake were not more vocal in expecting our schools and village to do a better job. Mediocrity seems to be what we get here.
Rich June 06, 2012 at 09:30 PM
It is a shame when village affairs and school affairs are mixed up. Then generalized complaints about vision. Grayslake is a great community because the budget is balanced and there is no debt. If you look at nieghboring communities with higher incomes, they do not have balanced budgets and they have debt. Libertyville is the clearest example. Their roads were deteriorating because they have no deferred maintenance program. They had to ask the citizens for $20 mil. in bonds to fix the roads. Driving in Grayslake this week, it was good to see good planning and newly paved roads by the post office and the library.
kathy anderson June 06, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I'll be more clear Homer. I would rather have crappy streets and great schools. We seem to be fixing streets here in Grayslake that don't even need to be fixed. We are forever repairing the stamped painted concrete disaster they put in the downtown intersection. That never made any sense to me. That is an example of poor vision. If you want to talk roads please tell me why Grayslake has let the 120 mess remain the way it is for so many years. You cant even get out of Grayslake to get to work. The extra slow commute on 120 gives me a chance to really see the monstrous new Low income housing going up on 120.....just feet from the road. It's larger than life and Grayslake voted almost unanimously for it. Benefits no one in Grayslake by the way and makes me think our village is not acting in the best interest of its citizens. Yes Homer I probably mix in the schools with the village but to be honest one affects the other. Decisions our village make directly affect the kind of people who move here. Many good people and families are leaving and that's the truth like it or not.
Brad Faxton June 06, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Outstanding - crappy roads and awesome schools. Ok, so lets see, you can reduce your tax burden by an additional 0.4% - about $125. Let the crappy roads be crappy. Look at your tax bill - it tells you where the $ goes.
Brad Faxton June 06, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Yea, right. Exactly! We pay a few $ today + a few $ in savings. This pays for new things today and stockpiles some cash for when the roads need to be replaced. They are replaced and we aren't asked for a ton more $.
kathy anderson June 06, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Forget the roads!!!!! That's not the point. What I'm saying is I'm paying a ridiculous amount of taxes and my return is a below average grammar school and a village that lacks vision and evidently common sense when it pays Mike Ellis over a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLAR salary.......it's insane
Brad Faxton June 07, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Horse honkey - the roads are awesome, tax burdon for the roads are silly low. Pay the guy golly dangit! Don't get flabbergasted that your taxes are high because of the roads - it is the schools.
BMF June 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I’m calling for the immediate review of everybody in Grayslake that has the power to help lower taxes. If I’m doing a bad job at work I get a review and put on probation. If I don’t improve I get FIRED. I think we should all do a social experiment and go to our bosses and say I want more money because I can’t manage my personal spending. I would love to hear the responses. Tell them you want more money and that you want to give them less work. It sounds ridicules when you say you out load I am confident if there was more pressure on Grayslake they could find a way to EARN more money. The Illinois (Grayslake) motto is just charge more and blame the other guy. That seems the easiest way not to get anything done. I feel sorry for the people defending the ridicules taxes that have lived here their entire life. It’s not like this in most other states. Over 10% percent of a person’s income should not go to property taxes! I have lived in much nicer places that have much much lower taxes. How do they do it?? Grayslake is debt free I could be debt free if made my boss give me $100,000 that I lost on my house or I can cut cost and try and EARN more money. That seems logical to me instead of demanding more money for less work.
BMF June 07, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Grayslake schools – I am so sick of teachers complaining! I have 2 close friends that are teachers. The both make $85,000 a year, they have summer off, great vacation, pension, and great insurance. I have to work in the summer no pension and $5000 insurance deductable. Maybe teacher should be required to get a job in the real world so they can see how most people live. It’s harder to work for a company that has to earn money rather than state that can just demand more money. If teacher have it so bad here I say leave. Illinois is rated as having the highest paid teacher in the country so good luck its funny that they are not rated to have the best schools. I think another experiment should be to go to your boss and ask for more money and if he says no tell him that you’re going to protest. Good luck in the unemployment line.
BMF June 07, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Last point- I love that I pay all these taxes and I still have to pay $3500 to send my child to kindergarten. Maybe if the teachers took a 1.5% raise instead of 3.5% my child could go to kindergarten full time. I forgot to mention that my child didn’t get into kindergarten in Grayslake because it’s full and based on a lottery. The two teachers in my neighborhood kids got in. That is convenient isn’t it? I guess it is what it. I am stuck here so I just have to deal with it. Grayslake and Illinois will continue to be a joke to the people I know. The taxes at this point is laughable and have become a shock topic for out-of-towners. As my home value drop and taxes rise and schools start cutting programs I will sit back and absorb it. I will continue to work hard and make more money so I can keep up with the village of Grayslake and it school employees standard of living. Eventually, people will have nothing left to give. Then what? Good luck to all that live in Grayslake. I hope you can keep funding this craziness. I know my goal is to get out as fast as I can!
Michelle June 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
GL Resident- Really? You honestly think Mr. Ellis and his lovely wife are the ONLY Grayslake residents who have a lawn service?? I have one! And I bet some of your neighbors do too! Obviously you haven't had the pleasure of getting to know the Ellis' during the 25+ years he has been working for our village. Or maybe you just didnt get the memo that Grayslake is one of the very few towns that is DEBT FREE!! Yes, DEBT FREE! Are you debt free? Mr. Ellis doesnt work 40 hours a week.. He works 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week! Like Tim said, he lives and breathes Grayslake. Local- yes, Homer was right. Some people get raises, some dont. Unfort, we are all lucky if we have a job. Homer- thank you for the additional FACTS. I read the article a few weeks back about his salary... And to be honest, didnt think much about it. Yes, he brings home a nice salary... But you know what else he does?? Makes me proud to live in Grayslake! Mr. Ellis deserves his salary, just like any other hard working man who has dedicated his entire adult life to the village my family calls "home" Oh! And BMF- you really think His salary is solely responsible for the harsh decline in our economy? Of course it isnt. But hey, he obviously brings home more than you, so let's blame him! Feel free to head on over to round lake, or perhaps waukegan? I'm sure their taxes are much lower... But take a guess at the kind of education your kids will get...
BMF June 09, 2012 at 12:38 AM
You have changed my mind. I agree I can’t wait to see our tax bill next year. I love spending more money and getting the same crappy results. Let’s pay people in Grayslake more! 25 years of service and crazy taxes. Thank you MR Ellis! Can we 25 more? Illinois the state of no accountability. You have to love it.
Kristen Spina Foote June 09, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Grayslake - the town that puts families into debt... so that it can be debt free. Woohoo!!! Yay us! And don't worry - plenty of families certainly are moving out for cheaper taxes. And they (at least the ones I know -feel free to add to this discussion cases of people you know who have moved and miss it here) are plenty happy.
Brad Faxton June 09, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Don't let the door hit ya in the backside on the way out.
Kathy Barone June 09, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Guess what folks, you get what you pay for! I live in a village that is NOT DEBT FREE, where the schools are now in a boat load of trouble, and the roads, well let's not go there. Yes the value of my home has decreased and taxes keep rising. I wish we had a Village Manager that could bring business into our town to ease our tax burden. I wish we had a Village Manager that wanted to stay for 25+ years, but that would mean we would have to PAY him/her so they weren't always looking for the next step up the ladder. You don't think he's worth it? You have no idea how good you've got it. I'm pretty sure no where in his job description does it require a 70 to 80 hr. work week. Sounds to me you got off cheap. If Mr. Ellis would like to leave Grayslake I will gladly welcome him to my town at any price! To those crying over the school district, and I might add rightfully so, please understand that your school district is a separate entity from your village government. Mr. Ellis and his salary have no bearing whatsoever on what is happening there. Get up off the couch and go to a school board meeting and voice your opinion, it won't change until you do. Finally, to the ignoramus who brought Mrs. Ellis in to this discussion, SHAME ON YOU!! Just when you think people can't sink any lower, they do. Residents of Grayslake, please appreciate what a value you have before some other thown steals him away: on second thought, keep it up, your loss could be my gain!
Kristen Spina Foote June 09, 2012 at 02:20 AM
I don't plan on it! Pretty sure with what we will be saving in taxes (and the schools where we plan to move rate better than here, so no worries there), there won't be too much regret. But thanks for your concern. Hopefully more residents don't go the route we are though - very sad to think what would happen to taxes/home values if they did!
Topher June 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Non-Crazy 15 Year Resident To all who are attacking Mike, do you know him or his work ethnic? In the way you are attacking him, I would say no. If you did, you would come to the realization that its making you look like an idiot. There is no reason for the attack of his pay or family. Do we not appoint people to worry about where our money is going and where how it is being spent. Everyone in Grayslake approved his pay when the people they appointed approved his salary. This has always been public information. If you really have a problem with his salary you would have been bitching along time ago at village meetings. For you to attack the salary of one person without knowing what they are worth and what they do to make this such a great town to live in. Then I think it shows how much of an idiot you are. What time do you go to work every day and what time do you get home? Better yet what time does Mike? Remember its not about what we are paying him but how the village is running. If the people running our village thought that he needed a pay cut they would have given him one. If you do not trust the people running this village (better then any other I've see ) then there are other towns and villages you can go live in.
Topher June 10, 2012 at 03:22 PM
kathy, 120 is a county road so grayslake has nothing to do with the mess, that you speak of. If you have issues with county roads, you can go to the county meetings. As for issues with schooling, there are district meetings that you can attend to express any issues that you have.
Topher June 10, 2012 at 07:27 PM
If you have such a big problem with what the village of Grayslake is doing then move somewhere else. The thing that you keep forgetting is that the schools and the village are different. IF you have trouble with the schooling you need to go to the school meetings and raise your concern there not with the Village and attack people that have nothing to do with your issues.
BMF June 11, 2012 at 01:46 AM
He’s the highest paid village manager in the state why would he go anywhere else? I don’t think you have to worry about losing him. I would think if you are working 80 weeks you could find a way to lower taxes. The article is about him so that’s why we are talking about him. As far is living in a non debt free town what the difference? taxes are high, schools are cutting programs, home values are way down, and people are scared to buy here because of the taxes. So please tell me what the difference is? Simply saying someone works 80 hours a week does nothing for me.
Topher June 11, 2012 at 02:26 AM
http://www.villageofgrayslake.com/index.aspx?NID=172. Look at this everyone please.
Topher June 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
http://www.villageofgrayslake.com/index.aspx?NID=173. An this. It's good for all to where the money is really going.
GuitarMan June 12, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Personally, I have looked around and see a lot of money being thrown around. For example, we have “antiqued” light poles, however almost everyone has excessive rust and seem to be on the verge of replacement. Another example is the municipal museum next to the fire department. Shoot me a number on the construction cost and annual cost, and another example of questionable judgment. The bulk of aesthetic improvements I’ve seen over the last twenty-two years were completed several years ago, we don’t need a high dollar “manager” to maintain it, that’s what each department head should do.
GuitarMan June 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Tax rate changes are little more than a "shell game". In '87 the basic infrastructure was supported by a population of around 6,000. Over the subsequent years population and property values exploded, therefore a rate drop reflected property appreciation. Today in 2012 we have spent enough on our town, and questioning a 259K salary to manage our town is questionable.
amy connoy July 08, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Who agreed to Mike Ellis pay? Our board members !!!!!!!! TIME FOR US TO VOTE THEM ALL OUT. I will be.....
Tobe Determined October 09, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Let's not forget that pensions are paid out based upon the trailing 2-3 years of salary. Is Mike planning on retiring soon? The abuse generally falls into one of these categories: † Spiking: End-of-career raises that boost pension payments for life. † Double-dipping: Employees who get multiple pensions from different units of government. † Tacking: Consultants and contractors improperly joining pension plans even though they’re not government employees.

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