CHAMPAIGN — A group of former mayors, a former city councilman and other community members will examine and possibly recommend changes to how much city council members and the mayor get paid.
This week, members were appointed to the "city council compensation task force," which convenes every six years to act as an advisory committee as the council considers what the city's elected officials should be paid.
The group will meet by the end of July, said City Manager Steve Carter, and its work is scheduled to be complete by the end of August. The city's human relations department will conduct a survey of comparable cities to aid the task force in making its recommendation.
Two former mayors, one former city councilman and four community members will make up this year's task force:
— Former mayors Robert Dodd and Dannel McCollum
— Former council member J.W. Pirtle
— And community members: Pastor Willie G. Comer Jr. of Berean Covenant Church; Peter Fox of Fox Development Corp.; Danelle Jameson, owner of Circles Boutique; and Peggy Moot, administrator for CMT Ventures.
"I spent 20-some years on the council, and I know that most times they do a good job," Pirtle said. "Most times they are underrated with their pay."
He said it's a full-time job, and then some.
"You have to answer 24/7 to your constituents," Pirtle said.
Right now, the eight city council members receive an annual $5,000 stipend. In Urbana, aldermen earn just under $6,000 last year.
Mayor Don Gerard is paid $35,000 in Champaign, which operates under a part-time mayor, full-time city manager form of government. Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, who is a full-time mayor and the city's chief administrator, made just more than $60,000 last year.
The city council will make the final decision on compensation and may reject or accept the task force's recommendations at its pleasure. In fact, only once in the four times the task force has met has the city council accepted its recommendation.
That was in 2006, when the council 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.
"These are always difficult things to talk about," Carter said.