Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to have their first chance to recommend any changes to the city’s proposed 2021 budget, and to take another look at a measure that would dramatically revamp their own compensation.

In addition they’re expected to approve the employment contract that will let Erika Storlie drop the “interim” from her city manager title.

Two aldermen have indicated that they plan to vote against Storlie’s appointment — Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, and Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward.

The City Code doesn’t specify the vote required to name the city manager. But the City Council Rules say it requires seven votes from among the nine aldermen and the mayor. The council rules also specify that it would require seven votes to remove the manager.

At the Rules Committee meeting, an hour before City Council’s scheduled 6 p.m. session, the aldermen are scheduled to discuss a plan that would increase the pay of the aldermen elected next April to $37,000 from the current $15,900.

But under the current plan aldermen are entitled to receive full health insurance coverage from the city for themselves and their family while kicking in only the normal employee match toward the cost.

That means the effective total compensation cost to the city for aldermen who opt for the family coverage is dramatically more than for an alderman who is single.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who’s single, has pushed for the change for years, arguing that its unfair not to provide equal compensation to all the aldermen.

The city considers an alderman’s position to be part time and does not require aldermen to account for the hours they spend on the job.

Since most aldermen take the full family health benefit from the city — which raises their total compensation to nearly $37,000 — the net cost to taxpayers of the change Rainey is seeking will be relatively modest.

It also may have some impact on the range of candidates who choose to run for office, since it would make the aldermanic position more lucrative for a single person, or for someone who gets health insurance through another employer, than it is now.

Storlie’s proposed 2021 budget calls for a property tax increase of just under 6% and a 6% reduction in the size of the Police Department’s authorized strength.

In the process of closing an anticipated $8 million pandemic-induced revenue shortfall next year it also makes a variety of other cuts that may lead aldermen to propose a variety of modifications.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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