The Mayor’s Compensation Committee recently recommended a modest 2 percent increase in pay for the elected officials in City and Township government. The recommendation resulted in a series of ordinances introduced at the Sept. 10 City Council meeting, most of them with reservations. The ordinances, if passed, will enact the pay increases recommended by the committee for officials elected next year.
At Administration and Public Works, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said, “I thought it was the chintziest increase that anybody could have been given. [It] works out to be $4 per week.” Council, she said, “works as hard as any I have seen.” She suggested other perks to make up for the poor pay ($12,000 per year before the 2 percent increase kicks in after the 2013 elections) such as cell phone reimbursement.
Although Ald. Rainey found a partner in Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, who said that the Committee should have looked at City of Chicago aldermen as an example instead of those in Lincolnwood or Skokie. “What is the compensation for a Chicago alderman?” she said. “People need to know.” Chicago aldermen are full time and are paid between $104,000 and $115,000 annually.
They were alone. While Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, agreed that “in a good week” she worked 30 to 35 hours on aldermanic duties, she said that “at the same time, I’m not really comfortable accepting even a 2 percent raise.”
“I don’t think a single person up here does this for the money,” said Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward. “I’m not inclined to support this.”
Not to be outdone, City Clerk Rodney Greene and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl both spoke against accepting even 2 percent raises for their respective positions. Then Ald. Rainey reminded everyone that the raises, if passed, will kick in after the election and, depending on the outcome, may apply to a different set of politicians entirely.
“Maybe the extra 2 percent will encourage someone else to run,” said Mayor Tisdahl. When it came time to vote, Ald. Wilson and Ald. Tendam voted against the aldermanic increase, but it still passed 7-2. All other recommendations passed 9-0, including increases for the Township Supervisor (who makes more than $13,000 per year, more than the aldermen) and Township Assessor (who makes $8,000 per year). Neither was in attendance to protest or support the prospective raises.