DeKALB – DeKalb elected officials no longer are facing a pay decrease ahead of the April 2021 election following another City Council vote.
The City Council voted, 5-2, against the proposal for a 10% pay decrease for the mayor, aldermen and the city clerk during their Monday, Oct. 26 meeting at the DeKalb Public Library. Ward 1 Alderwoman Carolyn Morris, Ward 3 Alderman Tracy Smith, Ward 4 Alderman Greg Perkins, Ward 6 Alderman Mike Verbic and Ward 7 Alderman Anthony Faivre opposed the measure, while Ward 2 Alderman Bill Finucane and Ward 5 Alderman Scott McAdams voted in favor. DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith did not vote on the matter.
Finucane and Smith initially suggested that the City Council consider a 5% reduction in the compensation of DeKalb’s elected officials, according to city documents. Aldermen later changed the proposal to a 10% pay decrease instead.
Perkins said he initially agreed with the thought of leading by example when it came to the city tightening its belt financially. In no way did he see it as maintaining the status quo or oppressing anyone who might need the financial compensation to justify the time spent addressing city matters, he said.
"I think people's voices matter and speaking up has influenced how I viewed things," Perkins said.
Smith said Monday it was interesting to see people coming out of the woodwork to speak against cutting city official salaries. He said he thought the initial proposal was a good gesture amid economic strife caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We were trying to cut back – the city needs to cut back," Smith said. "... After some serious input, I will probably vote no on this as well."
The update comes after the City Council voted, 4-2, during an Oct. 12 meeting, with two aldermen absent, to approve the measure. A quorum was not met to waive the second reading of the proposal during the meeting earlier this month.
Finucane, one of the most vocal proponents for the ordinance change, said during the Monday meeting he was still in favor of the proposal but acknowledged the motion to approve the measure was likely going to fail. He said he maintained it shouldn't be the pay that draws people to serve on City Council and city officials were trying to cut back on expenses, per common request of constituents.
If approved, Finucane had said the total savings for the next two fiscal years would have been more than $4,600.
"It's not a lot of money for each of the next two years, but it is something," Finucane said.
Morris said after the vote she is thankful to serve on a City Council that is open to changing their minds about certain issues. She said that speaks volumes to the emotional intelligence of her fellow aldermen.
"I really respect that they were open-minded enough to shift gears," Morris said.