Some Dissent Over Approved Elected Official Pay Ordinance

By Benjamin Cox on October 14, 2020 at 12:15pm

The Jacksonville City Council heard 4 separate motions on elected official pay increases last night. Aldermen Steve Warmowski and Brandon Adams brought three failed motions to the council hoping to amend the second reading of the 2021-2024 pay increases of 2% of the base salary beginning in 2022 for the office of mayor, treasurer, and city clerk. The alderman position was supposed to receive no pay increase per the ordinance, with all aldermen pay being $300 per month.

Alderman Brandon Adams first sought to amend the original ordinance by pushing the pay increases to 2% in both 2023 and 2024: “In the first council meeting that this resolution was read, I asked for a 1% increase across the board for all four years, which would be 4% total. Then, the resolution I brought tonight was 2% for two years is that same 4% that I originally asked for. It’s just putting the pay increases off for two years because we don’t know about the city’s revenues and budget. All the aldermen that were concerned about where we were going to find the funds for capital projects and expenditures didn’t worry one bit where they were going to find the funds when it came to increasing the pay, which is the opposite of the way it should have been looked at.”

The motion failed 8-2 with Warmowski joining Adams in favor of the change to the original ordinance. Adams brought a second motion asking to increase the alderman pay to match the $15 an hour minimum wage increase coming to the state in the next four years. The motion died due to lack of a second.

Warmowski took a different approach to alderman pay, asking that the aldermen receive a $5 a week increase in 2022 with a $10 a week increase coming the following year. Warmowski believes by increasing the pay, the city would court more people to run for office: “This would change the distribution so that it is by the week because there was some issues with the number of weeks in the year, versus the number of months in the year when it came to paychecks. This would just even things out and put us on the same scale as the executive positions. If you look at the numbers, the executive positions and what they get paid per resident of Jacksonville is way higher than most Illinois municipalities. Alderman don’t do anywhere near as much work as those positions, but we do a lot of communicating with the city. The other thing is that if you make that [alderman] pay higher, you might get more people that are interested to be alderman. Right now, my take home pay is about $50 a week, and a lot of people say they wouldn’t want to take up any of the headaches of the office for that amount of pay.”

Warmowski also asked for just a 1% increase rather than the 2% increase for the executives, based on the first reading of the ordinance. Warmowski’s alderman pay motion failed 7-3, with Alderwoman Eren White-Williams joining Adams and Warmowski. Warmowski’s executive pay increase amendment also failed 8-2, again with Adams joining.

The original ordinance with the second reading eventually passed 8-2 with Warmowski and Adams voting against. The pay increases will effect the officials who are sworn into office after the April 2021 Consolidated Election.