The committee appointed to advise the City Council on what elected officials should make after the next election is recommending they pay more for health insurance, but get a 2 percent annual pay hike.

The Mayor’s Compensation Committee voted unanimously this evening to recommend that aldermen and other elected officials pay as much for health insurance coverage as full-time city employees who don’t have union representation do.

The aldermen now pay only a modest amount for their coverage, and Committee Chair Suzanne Calder said other part-time city employees receive no health coverage from the city at all.

The aldermen and mayor are considered part-time employees.

Non-represented full-time city employees now pay between $88 and $225.50 per month for their health coverage, depending on the plan they choose and whether it covers just the employee or the worker’s family as well.

The health insurance benefit has been estimated to cost the city as much as $10,000 per elected official.

Calder says Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Aldermen Jane Grover, 7th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, are the only members of the City Council who don’t opt to take the city-funded health insurance coverage.

The aldermen now make $12,000 a year. They can’t raise their pay during their term of office, but the aldermen in office now set the pay rate for the City Council that will be seated after next April’s election.

Four years ago the council voted to raise the aldermanic pay rate by 20 percent immediately, though the compensation committee appointed that year had recommended that the increase be phased in with four annual increments.

The city’s human resources director, Cheryl Chukwa, told the committee that raises for non-union city workers have ranged from zero to four percent over the last four years, and in each of the last two years they’ve had three unpaid furlough days.

The history of recent pay raises for other city workers seemed to drive the committee’s conclusion that the aldermen should get 2 percent raises in each of the next four years.

But one committee member, Tim Pareti, argued that they should take a $500 pay cut, because of what he argued was the outsized amount of their pay boost last time.

The panel also recommended the same percentage increases and change in health insurance payments for the other elected officials besides the aldermen, including the mayor, the city clerk and the township supervisor and assessor.

The committee’s report also urged that the next compensation committee, to be appointed in 2016, be named early enough to start its work sooner, perhaps in April or May rather than in July, so it would have time to investigate issues more thoroughly.

In addition the committee said a full evaluation of the position of the city clerk “is overdue” to determine whether it should be considered a full-time or part-time job.

Calder said that while the current city clerk, Rodney Greene, works full time, some previous Evanston city clerks have only worked three days a week.

The aldermen are scheduled to set the pay rate for the next City Council by this September.

Last time around only Alderman Edmund Moran, who’d announced he wasn’t running for re-election, voted against the pay increase, saying Evanston aldermen were already making about twice as much as elected officials in similar communities.


Update 3:40 p.m. 7/17/12: In response to a question from Evanston Now about exactly what the aldermen now pay for health insurance, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says they’re already paying the same amount as non-represented, full-time city employees.

We’ve asked additional information about when that change took place and why the compensation committee apparently wasn’t aware of it.


Related stories

Alderman calls pay critics ‘hateful’ (Sept. 29, 2008)

Aldermen take bigger pay hike (Sept,. 23, 2008)

Panel: Give aldermen 20% pay hike (Sept. 19, 2008)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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13 Comments

  1. Wally Eliminate the Council members medical benefits!

    Wally has the authority to set the medical benefits ( I am not talking about pay here ) – everyone should remember, a few years ago council members paid $35 for full blue cross Blue shield family coverage a policy worth close to $17,000.

    When the last city manager left she changed the charge for the council members to pay the same price as full time employees about $180 dollars,

    Whats the chance Wally will upset his masters?  I think about zero.

    There are numerous hard working part time city employees who add more value, than the council members who recieve NO medical benifits.

    Anyone who thinks people who are paid $12,000 are entitled to $17,000 medical benefits, needs a course in reality.

    I am fine if the council members, get the medical benefits that is pay the full price at no cost to the city. That is set their salary at the cost of a single employee medical benifit, they can take their medical benifit or get a salary.

    Given employees continue to take pay cuts and increase costs its time these council members, take a cut.

    I find it interesting this committee after quite a few years is taking the position I have taken, why are council members special? They are part time city employees take the same coverage as the other city employees who are part time.  

  2. This is ridiculous

    Giving part-time employees medical coverage is very unusual, especially with very low employee contributions.  As a full-time, salaried employee in the private sector I pay $821.76/month for my (not very good) "employer provided" medical coverage.   In my opinion, aldermen shouldn't be paid at all.  I don't see my alderman doing much besides throwing fundraisers for other politicians. 

  3. Are they really part-time?

    I have a feeling that some of the council members and the mayor put in many more hours than part-time employees and should be eligible for heath coverage. Then there are some the appear to do very little, other than show up for the council meetings. Because they are elected and can be thrown out of office at the next election, as some deserve, they should all get some health coverage.

    As the article states, the current health coverage had an estimated annual value of 17,000, four years ago. If the coverage changed very little, its current value should be about 25,000, annually. For a council member, a fair monthly premium should be $ 300 for one, $ 600 for 2, and $ 800 a month for 2 plus children (birth children or legal adopted, 26 years old and under).

    I believe this would be fair to the member and the taxpayers.

    The mayor should pay at least double the council members or not be eligible for insurance. The mayor appears to have little envolvement during the council meetings and none meeting time appears to be for photo opts.

  4. Pay Alderman MORE money

    Please allow me to play "Devil's Advocate" for a minute. Maybe if we paid our Alderman MORE money, Evanston would attract a more diverse, and higher quality pool of candidates to serve in this position. As a taxpayer, I'd like to have the highest quality, dedicated, and qualified Alderman who will make informed and well thought out decisions that are in the best long term interests of our community.

    It's easy to post comments on Evanston Now, but think about the number of hours the Aldermen spend each week and the issues they have to deal with…missed trash pickup, unplowed street for 3 hours after a big storm, etc.

    The dedicated Alderman are significantly UNDERPAID when you consider the hours spent and their total compensation – salary plus healthcare. They deal with all sorts of nonsensical issues, and many people expect them to be at their beckon call. Have you stayed at the meetings until the very end?

    In addition, the Aldermen oversee a $100mm + budget and are making decisions that have multimillion dollar implications with our money. I want an intelligent, thoughtful person in that role.

    Thank you to those dedicated Alderman, and hopefully voters will get rid of the others.

    Pay more money and expand the talent pool for the next election.

     

     

    1. Pay is not the issue here, but fairness

      Tom – the Mayor is very well off, I believe she spend over $70,000 of her own money to run for the office. So the compensation is no issue to her, she is not taking the medical benefits.  I know over the years there have been several school board members, one whose salary was rumored in the seven figures. So I do not believe compensation per see is what is making people serve.

      As many point out, school board and many other committees etc are not compensated.  Wally created 311 to stop people from calling the council members about the garbage, so if council members are still dealing with that issue we have a problem. 

      We could double the salary and it would have no effect, on the number of people that run.  My issue is simple the city can not and should not give council members medical beneifts since it cost close to $110,000 each year. we have budget problems, so my view its time for the next council to stop this practice.

      Maybe its time to put term limits on these people, this might be a better approach to increase the number of new people that might run for office.

       

    2. Agreed

      I am of the same basic opinion. Make this a full-time job and that would eliminate those who like to "play" using the city's monies. Make this job, already difficult, more meaningful and perhaps we would get people elected who approach it from a more professional perspective. Don't misinterpret, most of our elected are professional. Some are not, or at least care more about pet projects than the city's benefit in toto.

    3. Pay Alderman MORE money

      I completely agree with Thomas Paine on this one… I can't imagine being an alderperson in Evanston… working so hard for so many hours a month on complicated issues in a community that has so much diversity and differing opinions not to mention interests. 

      Thank you Alderpeople!  I am glad you are up to it and I will try not to be too much of a pain in the… well you know what I mean!

      Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas

    4. Aldermen who respond to emails

      While I agree with you in spirit, I must say that my alder woman has never taken the time to respond to my emails.  I have sent Melissa Wynne a grand total of three emails in 12 years and I have never heard back from her.  Perhaps if she were paid she would take the time to respond.  

      That said, the aldermen in my friends' and family members' wards do regularly respond to emails, so perhaps it is simply the bad luck of being in my ward.  Or perhaps it is simply the fact that I live in a condo and not in one of the grand mansions here in SE Evanston.  

      Regardless, representation would be appreciated not only by me, but by several of my neighbors who have also found the radio silence of our alder woman frustrating.  Democracy is supposed to work for everyone, regardless of how big their home is.

      1. On the other hand

        I'm not a Third Ward resident, but a few years back I had cause to write to Ald. Wynne regarding a problem I encountered in her ward. I not only received a reply, but a prompt one at that. (Also, I did put my address in my email, so I suppose she could have done some research, had it actually mattered, to discover that I don't live in a grand mansion either.)

         

  5. Library Board members aren’t paid either

    Library Board members aren't paid and, as far as I know, don't receive any benefits paid for by taxpayers.  Yet, in the last two years, those people — some previous and many current members — have put in incredible hours of service to the city's taxpayers.  They don't require huge $ amounts for 3-1-1s or economic development or TIFs.  Nor do they seem to solicit photo ops.  They work rather quietly and seem to intend to benefit the community without pumping themselves into prominence.  Why do we give council members and the mayor benefits and raises for what they do?

    1. pay for boards

      Why are you restricting yourself to Library Board members?   There are lots of commissions and boards and none of them get paid.  Also, of course, they are not elected, but appointed and have volunteered as have the Library Board members.

      No reason for benefits, despite whatever time and effort they spend. It is no different than volunteering for your charity, church, museums, school, civic group, etc. – we do these activities because we believe – not to get paid

  6. More on the City limiting FOI requests ( medical benefits)

    A few years back, I FOI the city to obtain the cost of the benefits and I also asked the question, who on the council was taking them.   The city of Evanston claimed they could not tell me who was taking the coverage- they used the reason it would voilate HIPPA, that is the privacy of public officals. They did tell me only one public official was not taking the coverage and did not name the individual.

    How does this voilate HIPPA?  Paying for a health coverage has nothing to do with any medical condition. The city was clearly using it as a way to limit information, to the public.( Clearly the current administration is not interested in providing the public information but hiding it as best they can )

    What is interesting the chair of the committee knew that Burrus, Tisdhal and Grover were not taking the coverage, so the chair broke the HIPPA rules? I doubt it. Maybe Wally has a HR issue where with his HR department?

    Back when I asked about this, only one individual was not taking the coverage, that is when you could get family coverage for $35 a month for a Blue sheild Blue Cross PPO, worth well over $17,000 a year.  Since it was changed they now pay close to $2000 a year, Two members of the council opt out now and the Mayor. Why?  It is clear they have other coverage.  So they looked at the economics and realize it was not need. The City saves $20,000 to $30,000.  How many of the others on the council are doubling up coverage?

  7. To those who think Council members should be paid more

    In the real world, those who sit on corporate boards are not paid any where near the salary of the CEO of the company, yes they are very highly compensated in relation to the average workers in companies.

    In some cases they are CEOs of other companies.  Their role is to advise, not mirco manage.  The council members are not to here to run the city, they are suppose to provide "council" that is advise and vote on issues.

    Any one watching the council in action knows in many cases they are clueless to what is going on. There "council" most recently ( past year) allowed a 1.4 million dollars screw up to occur.  The administartive and public works committee is a big jokle, millions goes through this committee and plenty is wasted.

    Anyone wonder why we have such marginal recreation facilities in town? Why do we need citizens to suggest uses  for the Oakton center? Wheres the leadership here?  Our Mayor is running around trying to create Health centers.

    Others on the council push through pet projects that force staff to create more problems and mess up.  Frankly few staff members will tell you what they think, but at times watching the looks on their faces tells you, they have no respect for their masters.

    Those that think making this a full time job or raising compensation will have any effect, on quality are kidding themselves.  To get highly effective people, by making this a fully time job you would need to be paiding over $100,000. Know one on this current council is worth that amount of money.  Even paying over $100,000 would have no effect on quality, Politics will continue to fill the positions here, so raising compensation is of zero value.

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