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DeKalb city manager gets raise

3 percent hike retroactive to January; item’s presence on consent agenda questioned

DeKALB – City Council members voted to approve a 3 percent raise for City Manager Anne Marie Gaura – as well as retroactive pay back to January – without any discussion Tuesday, raising the ire of some in the audience.

During the public participation part of the meeting, Michael Haji Sheikh and former Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos both spoke out against increasing Gaura’s pay without any discussion.

“You’re talking about raising taxes simultaneously with raising the cost of government,” Haji Sheikh said. “A big chunk of citizens in this town are NIU employees. Most of us still get paid what we got seven or eight years ago. We’re told, ‘The state doesn’t have any money.’ Well, the citizens of this town don’t have any money.” 

The item was under a consent agenda with a long list of other items like receiving and filing past City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission minutes. This meant all items on the agenda would be enacted in one motion, rather than voted on independently. 

City Council members have the opportunity to request any items on a consent agenda be removed for independent discussion.

But there was no discussion among the council after public participation, and council members unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda.  

Gaura has been city manager since January 2014, and has worked to bring changes to the organization and spending practices of the city administration while wrestling with a budget that has become reliant on short-lived sources of revenue such as tax increment financing revenue.

Gaura already had received a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise, city records show. The 3 percent raise will boost Gaura’s base salary to $162,000.

Gaura had been due for an annual merit review in January and the performance-based raise ordinarily would have been awarded then, but the matter was deferred because the city was in the process of completing a pay and compensation study, according to city documents. 

The range of salaries for city managers in comparable communities typically ranges from $166,296 to $173,032, according to that pay and compensation study. 

Gaura will receive about $1,600 in retroactive pay back to January, based on her new salary. 

However, Chronopoulos said she thought the issue deserved some discussion from council members.

“That doesn’t seem like the type of item that should be on a consent agenda,” she said. “It should be [voted] on its own.”

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