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Government Local

DeKalb clerk gets hefty pay raise

DeKALB – Aldermen couldn’t agree to give themselves a raise, but they did approve a hefty hike in the city clerk’s pay.

First Ward Alderman Dave Jacobson wanted to add a $20 per diem to aldermen’s $5,400 annual pay. The additional money would compensate the ward leaders for also serving as City Council liaisons on city commissions. He couldn’t get support for his proposal, and his motion on the issue failed.

But then 4th Ward Alderman Bob Snow came up with the idea to compensate for the additional time on commissions with a cost-of-living type of increase. He made a motion to adjust aldermen’s salary from $5,400 to $6,000.

“That would include all compensation for any committees that somebody’s appointed to,” Snow said. “I think it would keep up with inflationary times. It’s a small increase.”

But on a 3-2 vote, with the majority of aldermen against it, that proposal failed, too.

State law requires that any changes in pay for elected offices be done at least six months before an election. The offices of mayor, city clerk and aldermen in the 2nd, 4th and 6th wards would be on the April 2017 municipal election ballot, as is an unexpired two-year term in the 7th Ward.

“The statutory prohibitions are intended to prevent there from being changes in compensation during a term of office,” said Dean Frieders, the city attorney.

Since aldermen didn’t approve motions to change the pay, it will remain the same for aldermen in the 2nd, 4th and 6th wards until consideration is made again before the 2021 election. The issue of aldermen’s pay will come up again in two years when the odd-numbered wards are on the 2019 ballot.

There was little discussion at Monday’s City Council meeting of changing the pay for the mayor. In fact, the role likely will continue to pay $22,500 a year for the part-time position. But a lengthy discussion of the city clerk’s duties ended in a more than 60 percent raise for that office.

Ward 2 Alderman Bill Finucane initially wanted to raise the clerk’s pay to $10,800.

“I think it would be appropriate for us to go ahead and raise the salary base for the city clerk,” Finucane said. “At this point, it appears it will remain as a part-time city clerk position, and I’d like … it to be at double the rate of an alderperson.”

That was no-go on a 3-2 vote, with only Finucane and 5th Ward Alderwoman Kate Noreiko in favor.

The city clerk’s role was changed as of 2013 when the office was reduced to a part-time position, and many of the duties of the office were reassigned to city staff.

Additionally, the pay was reduced to $5,000 a year.

But in recent weeks, current City Clerk Jennifer Jeep Johnson has advocated for changes to the office, including asking that some of the duties be redirected back to the city clerk.

Snow made a motion to set the clerk’s pay at $8,000. That was approved on a 6-0 vote, which included Mayor John Rey’s nod. Two aldermen were absent.

The issue is scheduled to come back before the City Council for final consideration Oct. 24.