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Tazewell Co. board changes course, votes to censure clerk after all

Pekin (WEEK) -- The Tazewell County Board voted nearly unanimously to censure the county clerk, reversing a decision made last month.

John Ackerman was criticized for giving his employees raises without including them in the county budget late last year. Last month, the board voted 9-8 not to censure him.

Wednesday, board members said attempts to work with Ackerman to roll back the raises were unsuccessful. As a result, they voted to reconsider the resolution, then voted 14-1 to censure Ackerman.

"My employees deserve the pay increases they received," Ackerman said in a phone interview after the vote.

Board members said they wanted to convince Ackerman to roll back the raises, but he would not. "We're at a position now where we tried," Nick Graff (District 2) said before voting to censure him.

Ackerman was at the board meeting Wednesday but did not speak. He said in a phone interview that he made his case in January, and that he had full legal authority to give his staff raises.

"I invited [board members] into my office to review [my legal authority]," Ackerman said. "Very few of them took me up on that. A lot of this misunderstanding could've been avoided."

Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman

The draft of the resolution says Ackerman, "purposely and knowingly withheld his intention to give grossly inflated raises to his employees." It also calls the pay increases unsustainable.

Toni Minton (District 3) echoed her colleague's sentiment that the board had no choice but to censure Ackerman. "The board's responsibility is to the taxpayers," she said. "The actions by Mr. Ackerman have caused grievances and financial stress against the board. We also have financial obligation to be good stewards. We should not seek legal options because that will cause more financial stress."

Ackerman said he was not concerned about the censure, and is looking forward to serving Tazewell County taxpayers through the March primary election and beyond. He says he intends to run for re-election in 2023.

At the board meeting on January 29, Ackerman said, "half of my employees were making on average $14.90, the big 18 percent increase was they went to $16.50," Ackerman said during the board meeting. "The census is paying better than that."

25 News Staff

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