Committee to recommend raises for Champaign council members

Committee to recommend raises for Champaign council members

CHAMPAIGN — An advisory committee is set to recommend that city council members vote to raise their annual stipend from $5,000 to $6,000 and to hold the mayor's salary at $35,000.

City council members this week are scheduled to discuss the recommendation from the city council compensation task force. The council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

The city council and the mayor review their salaries every six years. State law requires a city council to set compensation levels for elected officials before the next term begins.

Because the four-year terms for Champaign City Council members are staggered every two years, the $1,000 increase would not go into effect until after the spring 2015 election.

The task force is assembled every six years to act as an advisory body to the city council as elected officials consider how to deal with their own compensation. The city council and the mayor are free to take whatever action they would like and may still deny the task force's recommendation.

Only once in the four times the task force has been assembled has the city council accepted its recommendation. That was in 2006, when council members raised their salaries from $4,000 per member and $25,000 for the mayor to their current levels. Before 2006, their compensation had not been changed since 1988.

The task force met twice in August to reach its recommendation. Members asked city administrators for more information on benefits from travel reimbursement to health care coverage, but they settled on only one change: The $1,000 increase for the eight council members.

For those meetings, city administrators prepared a survey of 18 comparable Illinois cities. Mayor Don Gerard's $35,000 annual salary is the highest among 14 part-time mayors in those 18 cities — his salary was set by the previous term's mayor and city council.

The salaries of the four full-time mayors in the 18 comparable cities range from $33,250 in Joliet to $122,518 in Springfield. One of the study area's full-time mayors is Urbana's Laurel Prussing, who is paid $61,690.

At the current $5,000 level, Champaign's city council members make less than the average for representatives in the 18 cities. Council salaries in the study area range from $1,200 to $19,000, with the average stipend at about $7,500. Urbana City Council members receive $6,145 annually.

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