Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council Rules Committee meeting where aldermen discussed compensation for city officials to be elected next spring.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. A packet with information on the agenda item is available online.

Meeting called to order at 5:05 p.m.

Public Comment

Mike Vasilko claims aldermen are proposing to double their compensation while the city is laying off staff.

R1 – Elected officials compensation

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she’s given her entire adult life serving the people of Evanston and the 8th Ward. Says aldermen are not compensated anywhere near the minimum wage. Says aldermen “work our butts off.” Says aldermen aren’t paid equally now and that should be fixed.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says some questions posed last month aren’t answered in the staff memo.

Jennifer Lin, HR director, says there’s nothing illegal about what’s being proposed.

Fleming says it’s a difficult job. To attract more people to run, should pay better. But a little conflicted because of city’s financial constraints now.

Rainey says she’s already getting family insurance so is making $37K now.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, asks what’s the policy rationale for making it a cash payout rather than a health benefit.

Rainey says people who have families and children shouldn’t be treated differently than those who don’t. Says the arithmetic is simple.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, says taking the insurance is compensation. Making adjustments would attract more candidates. $37K is a little closer to a living wage, she says, and encourages diversity of representation.

The Compensation Committee had recommended that aldermen get a cash amount equivalent to their current salary plus the cost of an individual insurance plan — not a family plan. (Also called for cost of living increases in third and fourth years of the term.) (The PPO single plan would cost about $8,200 a year, compared to about $21,000 for the most expensive family plan.)

Jennifer Lin says the current compensation actually works out to $279K a year (because some don’t take family insurance). If all aldermen got the $37K in cash, the total cost would be $333K.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says that would amount to $6K additional per alderman per year. Says she can’t support that much of an increase.

Rue Simmons suggests perhaps capping the new pay amount to reduce the amount of the increased cost.

Wilson suggests preparing two options — one with the new stipend concept (that Rainey wants), one leaving compensation plans same as it is now. Suggests not having any increase in base pay now at $15,900.

Rue Simmons supports that.

Consensus is to move forward with that for the City Council meeting next Monday..

Meeting adjourned at 5:56 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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