Devon Reid.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says Evanston is “falling behind on compensation,” and too many municipal employees are leaving in search of financially greener pastures.

Reid told a virtual ward meeting Thursday night that a couple of mechanics at the service center “went to other neighboring communities,” where their pay each went up by several thousand dollars.

Add in inflation, Reid said, and Evanston is not doing enough in “creating a culture of caring” for the city staff.

Currently, the city’s website lists more than 20 non-seasonal job openings, from plumbing inspector, to garden co-ordinator, to police officer.

There are also top management vacancies which are not listed on the job site, such as city manager and police chief, which are at least filled by interim officials until permanent replacements are named.

There is no such thing,however, as an interim mechanic.

In addition, community development director Johanna Nyden just resigned to take a position in neighboring Skokie.

While pay is far from the only reason why people change jobs, Reid indicated that money and working conditions cannot be ignored.

Of course, raising salaries means raising the money to do that.

Reid suggested that selling the Civic Center for private development is at least worth considering.

That building, where Reid once worked as city clerk, has “parts … [which] are constantly falling down.”

There is often a bucket on the floors to catch debris, he added.

The city will likely see personnel costs increase soon. Mayor Daniel Biss has noted that the city’s four labor union contracts expire at the end of this year.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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