Most members of the city’s Compensation Committee indicated at a meeting today that they’re prepared to consider doubling the salaries of Evanston’s aldermen.

The four-member citizen committee appointed by the mayor today reviewed salary data from other communities, which indicates that Evanston’s aldermen already earn more than twice the average pay in eight other mid-size metro area communities for which city staff was able to find pay data.

Committee Chair Alvin Telser said he guesses that aldermen spend 30 to 40 percent of their time doing aldermanic work.

He speculated that a typical alderman might earn $80,000 to $100,000 a year as an annual income, so the current aldermanic pay of $12,735 a year “would be only about 10 percent of their income.”

“That’s low by a factor of two to three for the work they’re doing,” Telser said.

Member Robin Simmons said aldermen “spend an extreme amount of hours” on the job. I think we have a unique set of issues in Evanston, Simmons added, asking “do these other cities have homicides, gang problems, drug problems, homelessness issues and economic imbalances?”

Committee member Sue Calder said raising aldermanic pay to $20,000 would only cost the city about $49,000 and doubling it to $25,000 would only cost $108,000. “Given the size of our budget, that’s not a big deal,” Calder added.

Only committee member Todd Kihm raised doubts about the need for an increase, Kihm, one of nearly a dozen people who applied for appointment to the recent 7th Ward aldermanic vacancy, said, “There are plenty of people lining up for the current program. I don’t want to spend the city’s money just because we think aldermen are overworked.”

“A lot of people are willing to put in the time required for this amount of money,” he added.

The committee has scheduled its next meeting for 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, at the Civic Center.

The committee will makes a recommendation to the City Council which has to set the pay scale by this October for the aldermen, mayor and city clerk who will be elected next April.

If aldermanic pay were roughly doubled to $25,000, aldermen would be making 60 percent of the city per capita income of $41,340 for their part-time job.

Alderman and others in the photo above: Judy Fiske, 1st Ward; Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward; Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward; Donald Wilson, 4th Ward and Delores Holmes, 5th Ward; Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, a former alderman who swore in the mayor, city clerk and township supervisor; Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard, Mark Tendam, 6th Ward; Jane Grover, 7th Ward; Ann Rainey, 8th Ward and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward; and City Clerk Rodney Greene.

Related stories

Panel to consider pay hikes for aldermen (3/31/16)

Some aldermen claim to be overworked (9/11/12)

Aldermen cost more in Evanston (7/19/12)

Alderman calls pay critics ‘hateful’ (9/29/08)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. April Fools

    Wait – this has to be a joke right???  Don't they mean their pay (and benefits) should be cut in half?

    1. No, no, no, no, no.

      Elect me and keep the money. I don't need it. This city needs to save for the rainy day that's coming when the state goes bankrupt.

      1. Doing it for free……
        I just posted something, but thought of this when I read YOUR comment……send out or e-mail questionnaires to residents…see what their responses are to paying aldermen, raising their salaries, or having awesome volunteers elected for free……my guess is the third one…..there are a LOT of people who don’t need the money, either…….

  2. Spending other people’s money is fun!
    “The four-member citizen committee appointed by the mayor……”

    No conflict there.

    And just when I was congratulating myself for not buying in Chicago.

    1. Aldermen’s salaries
      WOW…..what a great suggestion! SURELY there are people other than you who would do this for free…..I WOULD ALSO!!!!! It would be the ultimate do-good, volunteer pay-back project for people who truly love their community, and have no hidden agendas with the mayor. I’m lovin’ this!!!! And…I bet there would be some experienced, intelligent people who either work from home, or don’t have/need “real” jobs, who would be great as aldermen….
      PLEASE, somebody look into this option..for real!

  3. Brutal
    “Give the size of our budget its not a big deal”

    From a city that’s 53% funded on their pension liabilities.

    So glad I’m leaving this state.

  4. Aldermanic Subsidence
    With the state currently stalled in a budget impasse,and so many programs going thru diminution,this is not a wise choice of The City Council. Why not use some of that money to better train their officers in community relations? to help curb the uptick in violence amongst young adults to prevent recidivism.It seems more about padding their pocket, while the only thing getting full are the correctional facilities.

  5. What qualifications should include to be alderman
    I assume a list of qualifications cannot be mandated even by residents voting, I hope the candidates would self-select, the party would require, and voters would use to determine who to vote for.
    It should include:
    Having worked for a profit making company.
    Part of duties involved budgeting and accounting [responsible] for reporting on the budget and actual income/expense and cause of variations.
    Other duties involved managing a group of employees [maybe 15+], conducting performance reviews and determining salary/bonus and hiring/firing. Also getting solid marks in “360 reviews.”
    Have taken at least one year of macro and micro-economics in college.
    Have taken at least one year of accounting in college.
    There are others but even these few items should go a long way to making sure they know what the real world of work involves.

  6. Irresponsible
    This is insane- when then majority of residents only get a 2-4% increase on their yearly performance reviews and this panel recommends doubling a part-time employees salary? It just shows how out of touch the City of Evanston is and it is totally irresponsible for this panel to make this recommendation. What next?

  7. Panel eyes doubling aldermanic pay

    Come on man—April Fools Day was a week ago—surely this must be some kinf of bad joke or reprinted from The Onion…

    Let me try and breeak this down point by point as best I can—

    Point—Article states recommendation is based on a 4 man commitee that was appointed by the mayor

    Counterpoint—Mayor Tisdahl—what are you thinking?—whats the motivation behind this decision?—how can a 100% salary increase ever be justified when mnay of Evanston's citizens are struggling month to month just to get by?—who comprises this 4 man committee?—is one of the members actually from Northwestern?—why would someone at NU have any business deciding on Evanston's aldermanic pay?—Does Evanston have any say so over what NU employees or officials get paid?—what gave you the authority to recommend such committeee in the first place?—wouldnt it be the city managers job to decide if a pay increase is warranted?—I can't find anything in city code granting you any authority to legislate on what alderman are paid—do you have authorty to decide on any city employees salaries?

  8. Aldermanic Pay & 311
    We have been hearing the same rhetoric regarding how this is a full-time gig from our alderman for years. I was under the impression that the vast amount of calls being lodged at our aldermen was supposed to be greatly decreased after 311 was implemented. Now it sounds like 311 hasn’t had the valuable impact our city employees touted when it was sold to us.

    If our alderman continue to spend far too much time doing their job, perhaps we should double the number of alderman again so their burden can be halved. Or perhaps they should stop inserting themselves into things that our able city employees are already doing. I’m thinking this “full-time gig” has more to do with time spent by certain aldermen in their effort to control pet projects than it actually has to do with time required to do the actual job…. because isn’t it true that 311 was supposed to give our aldermen their life back?

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