Why in the world would Sheriff Keith Nygren approve and pay a $350/month commuting expense for a McHenry County Sheriff's Department employee?
I had heard a rumor a week or so ago that at least two employees receive this perk, and so far the Department has, through a FOIA request, confirmed that Patrick Firman, Deputy Chief of Corrections, receives a $350/month "Vehicle Compensation Package".
In other words, Firman, who is believed to live in Lake County, swung a deal with Nygren to pay for his commuting expense. Firman's duties are in the jail. He drives to and from work on work day. He has no need of a County car, and no County car is assigned to him. There shouldn't be any emergencies that would require him to response immediately to the jail; that's what highly trained and authorized supervisors are for. When Firman goes home for the day, the jail continues to operate.
So why should he be paid to drive back and forth to work? Do lieutenants, sergeants and rank-and-file corrections officers get a similar perk?
Why did Nygren structure Firman's pay that way, instead of just giving him another $4,200 in his salary? Does Firman report the $4,200 as income? Does the County avoid payroll taxes (Social Security, retirement plan contribution, worker's compensation premiums, unemployment taxes) by paying $4,200 to him that way? Does the County withhold income taxes and other payroll taxes from that $4,200? If not, why not? Is it legal not to withhold?
Since it is not a reimbursement for necessary business use of a personal vehicle, Firman ought to be reporting the $4,200 as ordinary income on his income tax returns. Because he is commuting, there is no income tax deduction for his commuting expenses.
So what's the deal?
This kind of dealing is certain to have a negative impact on other Jail employees.
Are there other MCSD employees with such sweet deals?
If I am elected Sheriff on November 2, this deal with Firman will be canceled.