Carlock Mayor responds

By:  Diane Benjamin

Instead of approving the acting Mayor’s comment, I decided it needs it’s own story:

The Illinois Department of Labor is immaterial when giving away taxpayers dollars.  Where in the law does it say you CAN give away taxpayer dollars?  If your employees are underpaid, why didn’t you give them $1000 each?  Why not $2000?

I’m glad you appreciate your employees, but nowhere in the law does it give the Board permission to express gratitude with money stolen from taxpayers.  If you have a surplus because of vacancies, give it back to the people who actually earned it!

If you got this advice from your lawyer, look for a new one.  Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule State:

Dillon’s Rule construes grants of power to localities very narrowly. The bottom law is — if there is a question about a local government’s power or authority, then the local government does NOT receive the benefit of the doubt. Under Dillon’s Rule, one must assume the local government does NOT have the power in question.

In other words, if the law doesn’t specifically give you permission to hand out money, you can’t.  The acting mayor didn’t use laws for municipalities to justify Christmas bonuses.  She couldn’t, it isn’t there.

Hi all,
My Name is Rhonda Baer. I am the acting President/Mayor of the Village of Carlock. Since nobody, including the author of this blog post, called to ask for clarification about the information that we willingly and openly provided earlier this week, I thought I would shed some light on our decision and correct some inaccuracies reported above.

First of all, there are several types of bonuses defined by the Illinois Department of Labor. There are earned bonuses, gratuitous bonuses and discretionary bonuses. Diane is partially correct when she says that employee contracts are required for employees to receive bonuses, but only as it pertains to EARNED bonuses where employees have an expectation of receiving a bonus when required conditions have been met by both parties. In those cases, employee contracts that include the criteria required to receive the earned bonus are mandatory. Gratuitous and discretionary bonuses are different, however, and do not require an employee contract. Gratuitous bonuses do not obligate the employee to meet certain criteria, nor is the employer obligated to give them. Discretionary bonuses are bonuses where the earning criteria of the bonus is indefinite or uncertain, but is usually tied to performance. All types of bonuses are income and have to be taxed as income whether they are paid in cash or another form such as gift certificates. The bonuses we approved and paid this year fall under the gratuitous bonus category and they were all run through our accounting department as income and will be reflected on their 2019 W2s. Additionally our decision was reviewed by our attorney.

It is true last year the village received a donation for the payment of gift certificate bonuses (which were also run through accounting as income). We were very appreciative of that/those benefactor/s. However, this year we had no such benefactor/s, and because our budget for salaries was very favorable due to the fact that we went several months with a couple vacant positions, the board approved the purchase of $610 worth (approx. 10% of the salary budget EXCESS) of gift certificates to be given to our employees. $100 each was given to our 5 main employees: the water superintendent, the water assistant, the clerk, the treasurer and the maintenance employee. These folks don’t get paid a lot, they don’t get thanked enough, and they are the frontline when it comes to dealing with problems and complaints. They rarely miss a day of work and never complain. They are dedicated to this community and professional in their jobs. They keep this town running. . .not just for the board members but for all Carlock residents. Additionally we approved $50 to our school crossing guard who rarely misses a day and greets every single car with a smile and wave. . .every single one, $10 to the back-up crossing guard who isn’t needed often, but is still a valuable part of our team when she is needed, and $25 each to the two people who have watched the library door during our meetings that run after library hours. They may be public employees, but they are still employees worthy of being appreciated for their efforts and jobs well done. We could have approved these bonuses as a cash bonus, but we chose to approve them as gift certificates purchased from two or our local retail businesses so that they, too, benefitted by our decision.

I am fully aware that as a board member I represent the residents of Carlock, not just myself. I was elected to make decisions on behalf of the residents for the betterment of the community. One of those responsibilities of public purpose is making decisions, including compensation, to ensure we maintain capable, experienced, and dedicated staff and bonuses are not an uncommon form of compensation.

I hope this clears up any questions you all may have. I have always been very public about my contact information and welcome any questions, comments, complaints, and/or suggestions. My email address is: [email protected] and my phone number is: 309/275.8451. Hard for me to take a call before 1:30pm on a workday, but I will happily return a call if you leave a voicemail. Texts and emails are great anytime.


11 thoughts on “Carlock Mayor responds

  1. Good intentions still have to follow the LAW. Not feelings! That is the same issue we have in Washington DC and every other corrupt public official in every state. Just LEARN what the law says, and FOLLOW it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Rhonda for your dedication to Carlock and for stepping up when the position became vacant. It’s not an easy job when you’re constantly being scrutinized. It is not illegal to do what they did. Yes, It’s ridiculous when the government hands out raises and bonuses for no apparent reason to people already earning healthy salaries. THAT is wasting taxpayers money. This is a different situation. These were very modest bonuses. I fully support making already underpaid employees feel somewhat appreciated so we can keep quality people. What if your water was shut off on a Friday and you don’t get off work early enough to have it turned back on and you ask that village worker to show up after hours so you can have water all weekend instead of waiting until Monday? Wouldn’t you want a quality, caring village employee to show up on his/her own time to help you out? What if it was your child walking to school? Would you want them running across the streets with all that morning traffic or should you be thankful for that crossing guard standing out there in the freezing cold or rain making sure traffic stops before your child crosses the road? If you don’t care about them then why should they care about you? People are not lining up at the door to do these types of jobs. I highly doubt any negative person commenting on here would do these jobs for their pay but guess what someone has to do it! Every single person listed on this article for a bonus deserved the minuscule piece of my taxes that they got. Thank you village workers and school workers for all of your hard work. “Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.”


      2. @Taxpayer. When will the citizens of this country understand we are a nation of laws. Without them, we have anarchy. Every single point in your comment has ZERO to do with following the law. Your feelings, don’t matter. While it is nice to hear about the dedication of town employees, it doesn’t matter. The Illinois Constitution prohibits giving away taxpayer money. I’m sure they deserve more pay. That is nice of you to think so. But your feelings are not the law. Why don’t you campaign for the town to pay them more money, so it doesn’t have to feel obligated to give them illegal bonuses. Convince your fellow citizens to pay them a living wage or donate your own money. Both would be perfectly legal. C’mon write a check for a donation. Or are you like all of the Democrats? Talk a good game. Use other people’s money to pay for it.


  2. Rhonda states in her reply that the business places GAVE on their own in previous years. That’s FINE if the people in town, or local business WANTS to recognize local providers, but it’s NOT OK when it’s OUR tax money, and handed out like candy at a parade..


  3. Funny thing about me “donating” and you assuming I’m a Democrat “talking a big game and wanting to use taxpayers money”… IT WAS MY TAX MONEY. Do you even pay taxes there? Does this even affect you at all? Giving a taxed $100 gratuitous bonus to a few employees is not illegal. It was clearly done to show appreciation for their employees and to keep loyal, hard working people there which has everything to do with what I said. I do understand the possible issue with the non village employees but If it‘ s bothering you so much then maybe YOU should donate to those other 3 individuals instead of trolling the internet for something to complain about. There are much bigger issues with our government right now than this. Please put your energy toward that. That’s all.


  4. While not illegal to have the mayor and clerk sign those checks it does open the door for questions. Such as: we all know the mayor and clerk are sisters. There is a 3rd person available to sign those checks. Can you say possible collusion? It seems better judgement could have been used when an alternative solution is available. This village continues to increase taxes and water rates yet seems to think giving away taxpayer monies is ok. I do not. Village of Carlock board of trustees please stop your criminal activity NOW.


  5. Maybe repetition will bring clarity and not be insanely confused with complaining. As Diane, Stan, and others have clearly stated, giving away taxpayer money is illegal.


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