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Panel: Give aldermen 20% pay hike

Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on a proposal to give themselves a 20 percent pay hike over the next four years.

The recommendation comes from a hastily-appointed compensation committee that held only one meeting before recommending the pay boost.

Despite receiving results of a survey showing that Evanston aldermen already are paid nearly twice as much as the average pay for aldermen or trustees in the seven other communities studied, the committee report makes no reference to setting pay rates comparable to those in other communities.

Instead, the report says the part-time aldermen "give the citizens more than part-time effort. We thank them for their dedication to their elected positions and believe that the Evanston community is better off because of their work."

The panel recommended that the pay for aldermen be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 over the next four years in $500 annual increments.

The panel also made no mention of the full health insurance benefits the city provides aldermen at an additional cost of over $10,000 per alderman per year. The compensation survey did not address health benefits, but it is known that trustees in at least two of the communities surveyed, Arlington Heights and Skokie, do not receive health coverage from their municipalities.

Because Arlington Heights and Skokie have fewer trustees than Evanston has aldermen, the total per capita cost to taxpayers for the local legislative body here is nearly three times what it is in the other two communities.

The pay panel also recommends raising the salary of the mayor from $17,000 to $19,000; of the township supervisor from $11,500 to $13,400 and the township assessor from $6,000 to $8,000. All the raises would be accomplished by $500 annual increases.

In a sign of the haste with which the panels report was prepared, its text proposes a $4,000 total increase in the $49,000 annual salary of the city clerk, but the enumerated salary figures for each year show no increase after a $1,000 boost the first year.

The clerk is the only elected position that is considered to be a full-time job.

The city this year blew the ordinance-imposed deadline for the once-every-four-years process of naming a compensation committee and had to amend its ordinance to provide for a late report.

Under state law, the council is barred from amending ordinances that set the salaries of elected officials within 180 days of the next municipal election.

As a result, the aldermen will have to either introduce and adopt the pay ordinance Monday night or schedule a special meeting no later than Oct. 9 to adopt the measure.

The members of the compensation committee were Marian Kurz, John Leineweber, Vicki Weigel Truax, Margaret Walker and Dan Wefler.

The council meeting is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

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