As some Chicago councilors are due to receive almost 10% increases next year – and the local elections are looming in February – three council members are making smooth proposals to halt inflation-related wage increases.
North Side Ald. Andre Vasquez was not among the 17 council members who rejected the 2023 raise, which begins automatically in January for councilors who have failed to file documentation by opting out of the compensation hike. However, it introduced a measure limiting future increases at the level of 5%.
Separately, downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly – who rejected the 2023 salary increase – introduced his own measures to curb the City Council increases. The full text was not released until late Wednesday, but Reilly said it would effectively ban increases for council members next year and those reappointed for a new term starting in May.
“We’ll see who cares about fiscal responsibility and who doesn’t,” Reilly said, adding that the council needs to bet on a “savings budget.”
The third plan to change the wójt’s wages was introduced by Ald. Raymond Lopez, who is running for mayor next year, also rejected next year’s raise. A proposal from the 15th ward councilor would cut City Council members’ salaries to $ 120,000 from May 2023, with a 3% increase every four years.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday dismissed a question about the Alderman hikes, saying she had not reviewed competing proposals but would see “what makes sense in the future.” In response to a question about her own salary of $ 216,210, Lightfoot said the mayor’s salary had not been raised in nearly 20 years, but added that “this is not my focus.”
The policy, which links City Council wages to inflation, has been in force for 16 years and has been deemed politically purposeful as it allowed councilors to receive annual raises without having to cast potentially unpopular votes. And for many years – when the consumer price index rarely exceeded 3%, and often fell below 2% – these Aldermanian increases were relatively modest.
But as inflation began to soar last year, the council hikes that went into effect in January were 5.5%, then the highest in more than a decade, raising the highest council salary to over $ 130,000. Five councilors rejected the raise. Now, with a consumer price index unprecedented in 40 years, councilors who will not forget it will receive a 9.6% increase, which will raise compensation for the supervisory board to more than $ 142,700.
Competing council plans seemed to irritate part of Ald’s City Council. Gregory Mitchell, 7th, sends amendments from Vasquez and Lopez to the rules committee, where legislation often stands still. Reilly’s was allowed to go to the budget committee.
Vasquez of the 40th ward said his proposal to limit wage increases to 5%, as well as the council’s property tax increases, was intended to be a starting point for discussion.
“I don’t know if this is a solution, but yes, let’s propose something,” Vasquez said. “When you think about the out-of-pocket costs and hours worked, some increase makes sense, but 9 (%) is a lot.”
Reilly of the 42nd ward noted that there was also a move to “get rid of the mayor’s property tax increases due to CPI or inflation,” referring to Lightfoot’s plan to plug the budget deficit.
“We should also do away with our salary increases,” Reilly said. “We must have a savings budget.”
Councilors are expected to vote this fall to raise property taxes on homeowners and businesses by $ 42.7 million. A 5 percent cap would allow a $ 85 million tax hike, but Lightfoot recently announced it would only ask for 2.5 percent, citing the hardship that inflation has faced many of the city’s residents.
Other local governments are also struggling with the issue of wages.
After voting on future Cook County Executive Commissioners and other top county officials, 10% raise Earlier this year, the board’s finance committee voted Wednesday to cement the new policy to determine whether automatic future increases are in line with other governments across the country.
Earlier this year, commissioners awarded themselves and other top elected officials annual increases of 3% or the inflation rate, whichever is lower, starting in 2023.
After the Women’s Voters League has cried over a lack of transparency about future wages, the county plans to commission an “Independent Wage and Market Survey” to begin in December 2024 to ensure wages are in line with other jurisdictions.
“All of this requires that every four years the HR department conducts a study similar to the one we did last year that will show trends and remuneration of comparable officials elected in other jurisdictions and report it to the Finance Committee,” said sponsor, retiring Commissioner Larry Suffredin . The Finance Committee would vote on the recommendations of the survey by the end of March 2025 on the schedule of increases for the next term.
The cost of this survey is estimated at $ 91,000, according to the Fiscal Impact Note. This year’s increases were the first in over 20 years for district commissioners, chairman of the board, assessor, clerk, sheriff, treasurer, members of the Audit Council and the secretary of the District Court.
Most seats across the county – including the chairman of the board, clerk, sheriff, treasurer and assessor – and all 17 county board commissioners, as well as three seats on the Audit Council, are due to run for elections on November 8.
Also on Wednesday:
- City Council members voted 46-1 to appoint Timothy “Timmy” Knudsen as the next 43rd ward councilor, replacing Michele Smith about a month after her retirement. Ald. Marty Quinn, 13, voted no.
- Councilors approved four settlements, including a $ 15 million payment to the family of a mother killed in a Chicago high-speed police chase, a $ 9.05 million settlement to a man wrongly convicted of m*rder, and $ 950,000 to a bricklayer who allegedly racially abused. a supervisor and a $ 900,000 settlement for Dwane Rowlett, who was injured after Chicago police shot him on New Year’s Day 2017. All were unanimous except the last point, which was approved by a 27-20 vote after Ald . 38th Nicholas Skutato pulled a 5-inch knife on the council floor to demonstrate the size of the weapon Rowlett allegedly used.
- The City Council approved an ordinance designating Chicago as the “Sanctuary for the Autonomy of the Body” for access to ab*rtion.
- Councilors Emma Mitts and Ariel Reboyras delayed voting on a bill allowing cars to be loaded in private parking lots across the city. Former Ald. Joe Moore, a lobbyist from a boot company that supports the proposal, said more time was needed to get votes.
Contributed by Gregory Pratt of the Tribune.
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