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DeKalb leaders to consider staff pay raises

Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb City Council members will consider finalizing the 2 percent pay raises for all nonunion city employees at their Monday night meeting.

In addition, Mayor John Rey, and Aldermen David Jacobson and Monica O’Leary, of the 1st and 7th Wards, respectively, have asked that council members revisit the pay increase that was denied to Frieders Law LLC. The three council members voted down City Attorney Dean Frieders’ pay increase at their June 24 meeting.

If the pay increase is approved by the council, the city will pay Frieders Law $17,340 a month – or $208,080 a year. Frieders’ contract was renewed at their previous meeting without the increase. For his part, Rey said in a previous interview that he regretted voting against the pay increase.

“If you look at the deliverables and things Dean has brought in the city ... we’re sending the wrong message if we’re approving a contract with no increase at all,” Rey said.

Police Chief Gene Lowery described his experience with Frieders as positive, noting how he has streamlined certain processes and led initiatives to update certain ordinances.

“The return on investment for Dean Frieders is many times what the cost of his salary is,” Lowery said.

The City Council’s last meeting saw a significant divide between aldermen who say the city is on relatively sound financial footing, and others who say it’s about to fall into fiscal disaster. In addition to lengthy debates about the pay increases for the attorney and the city staff, the council also debated the pay increase and merits of Roger Hopkins, the city’s economic development consultant. The council approved Hopkins’ contract and pay increase with a total cost of $77,112 a year.

Even with the pay increase, officials said the city is saving money through the outsourced services. Rudy Espiritu, acting city manager, said the city was paying up to $450,000 a year for an in-house legal department, while a full-time economic development director would cost up to $135,000 a year. All of the pay increases were budgeted for in the city’s fiscal 2014 budget, which began Monday.

With no items to consider in their Committee of the Whole, the City Council will begin Monday’s meeting at 6 p.m. at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

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