Council refers salary changes for elected officials to Rules Committee

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

Aldermen agreed Monday night to send ordinances concerning salary changes for themselves, the mayor and the city clerk to the Rules Committee to be reviewed.

A city-appointed Compensation Committee recommended a 23.1 percent increase in pay for both the aldermen and the mayor. Under the proposed ordinance, aldermen would earn $15,990 a year, and the mayor would earn $25,317 starting next May. Salaries of Evanston’s elected officials were last changed in 2012, and are reevaluated every four years.

“It’s an opportunity, it’s a snapshot way of looking at the work that they all do as elected officials,” said city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. “Their role is largely still a volunteer legislator. The compensation that they receive is really more of a stipend than anything else.”

Under the proposed ordinance, aldermen would receive $3,000 more yearly on top of their existing communications stipend and optional health care insurance. According to council documents, the Compensation Committee chose not to include the health care costs in their recommendations since the city has “no direct control over health benefit costs.”

Additionally, the committee took into account past data on Evanston’s aldermanic salaries and results from a survey which asked aldermen how many hours a week they spent on official business.

“We recognized that Evanston aldermen put a lot of time and effort into the jobs that (they) do for the city, so that was a driving force in our recommending a substantial bump in (their) compensation,” Chair of the Compensation Committee Alvin Telser said at a June 27 City Council meeting.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city clerk’s salary would rise annually by the same percentage that the salaries of non-union city employees rise, a point which raised questions among a few city officials.

Rodney Greene, who as the city clerk is the only full-time elected official in Evanston, took issue with the committee’s recommendations, including the identification of his role as a non-union city employee at the City Council meeting on June 27.

“The city clerk’s position is not hired by the city council or the city manager,” Greene said. “He or she is an elected official. … Is it not prudent to establish a fair compensatory model for all city officials, elected or not?”

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) questioned the legality of the recommended salary change for the city clerk at the June 27 meeting, saying the ordinance must provide a set salary for the next four years, rather than the variable by which it will change.

According to council documents from Monday’s meeting, the proposed ordinance for the city clerk’s salary does abide by the Illinois Municipal Code and the Local Government Officer Compensation Act.

“For the city clerk I think the challenge is how do you fit that in with every other day-to-day position here that is not elected but is a staff member,” Bobkiewicz said.

The ordinances will be addressed at a Rules Committee meeting August 1.

[email protected]
Twitter: @noracshelly