Evanston aldermen, scheduled to vote soon on giving themselves a pay raise, already cost taxpayers far more than the equivalent elected officials in nearby towns of similar size.
An Evanston Now analysis of budgets for Evanston, Skokie and Arlington Heights shows that an alderman here costs taxpayers nearly eight times as much as a village trustee in Arlington Heights and roughtly two-and-a-half times more than a trustee in Skokie.
And, since Evanston has nine aldermen, compared to eight trustees in Arlington Heights and six in Skokie, the total tab is evening higher.
The three towns are roughly the same size — with Evanston and Arlington Heights almost equal at 74,486 and 75,101 people respectively. Skokie's population of 64,784 is about 13 percent less than that of the other two.
An Evanston alderman now make $12,000 a year, and gets health insurance benefits that cost the city an average of more than 10,000 a year.
And the elected officials are the only part-time city employees who qualify for health insurance coverage, according to the chair of the Mayoral Compensation Committee, Suzanne Calder.
But Calder says two of the aldermen don't take the city's health insurance coverage.
Arlington Heights and Skokie don't provide health insurance benefits for their elected officials, and they also pay their trustees less.
Skokie trustees make $8,760 a year, while Arlington Height's trustees are paid just $2,800 a year.
The picture is somewhat different for each town's mayor.
Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is paid $18,000 a year, but, according to Calder, declines the city's health insurance coverage.
Skokie mayor George Van Dusen is paid substantially more — $31,150.
But Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder, although entitled to pay of $8,500, "is not currently accepting compensation" according to the village's budget documents.
Neither of the othe mayors are eligible for health insurance coverage from their towns.
Evanston aldermen could vote as early as next Monday on whether to adopt the Compensaton Committee's recommendation that they give a 2 percent per year salary increase in each of the next four years to the officials who will be elected when Evanston voters go to the polls next April.
Four years ago, when the compensation committee recommended a 20 percent pay hike for Evanston aldermen over four years in 5 percent annual increments, the aldermen voted to take the entire 20 percent increase immediately.
Evanston city budget 2012 (.pdf)