Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on a recommendation to give the next City Council a 23.1 percent pay hike.
The increase, which is roughly five times the increase in the cost of living over the last four years, was recommended by a special Compensation Committee appointed by the mayor.
The committee also recommended a 23.1 percent pay hike for the mayor, but it called for giving the city clerk, the only full-time elected official in the city, only the same annual salary increase as other Evanston non-union employees. Those increases have been generally in line with inflation in recent years.
Aldermen now make $12,990 a year. They’d get a $3,000 boost if the committee’s recommendation is approved. The mayor now makes $20,556 and would get a $4,751 increase to $25,307 under the committee’s proposal.
In addition to their cash compensation, Evanston aldermen, unlike elected officials in most metro area suburbs, also receive health insurance coverage. That is 90 percent paid for by the city and can nearly double their total compensation, depending on the health plan they choose.
The average total cost to taxpayers of an alderman or trustee in other nearby communities tends to be much lower than it is in Evanston.
But the committee claimed in its report that is “difficult to find truly comparable communities in terms of demographics … and the full responsibilities of elected officials.”
The committee said all of the elected officials “work very hard, and very effectively, for the benefit of the city and its citizens.”
And it added that it wanted to encourage citizens from all segments of the community to be financially able to serve.
The committee had considered and rejected various other compensation proposals — ranging from doubling aldermanic pay to setting up a compensation plan that would let let aldermen receive more cash if they chose a less expensive health plan.
Aldermanic compensation stayed roughly in line with the rate of inflation from 1977 through 2000, but has risen substantially faster than inflation since then and the proposed new pay scale would widen the gap still more.
Under state law each City Council, toward the end of its term, is required to set the compensation level for the new council to be elected next April
So far seven on the nine aldermen have said they plan to seek new terms in the April election.
The positions of mayor and aldermen are considered part-time in Evanston and some aldermen also hold down full-time jobs elsewhere, although others report no outside employment.
Aldermen received annual increases as a result of the last compensation vote four years ago. This time the committee is recommending an all-in-one increase with no further boosts during the new council’s four year term.
Aldermen could get cafeteria pay plan (4/19/16)
Panel eyes doubling aldermanic pay (4/5/16)
Panel to consider pay hikes for aldermen (3/31/16)