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updated: 11/7/2012 5:30 PM

Aurora approves raises for future mayor, aldermen

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Those elected to serve as mayor or aldermen in Aurora will receive pay increases in coming years after the city council approved raises for both positions.

A 9 percent raise will go into effect for the position of mayor in May, to be followed by 3 percent raises in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

"Everyone looks at it like we're raising (current Mayor) Tom Weisner's salary," Alderman John "Whitey" Peters said. "Well, we're not. We're raising the position's salary."

But Weisner has said he is seeking re-election. If he's successful, he would see his pay jump at the beginning of the new term under the compensation schedule approved Tuesday night.

Pay bumps of 2.5 percent a year for four years were approved for the position of alderman, but those increases will not begin until May 2015, after all current aldermanic seats have gone through an election cycle.

Neither measure passed unanimously, with three aldermen voting against the pay increase for the position of mayor and four opposing the raises for aldermen.

The city council examines salaries of elected officials about every four years so they can be adjusted if necessary, said Alderman Rick Mervine, who led a panel of three aldermen charged with examining possible raises this time around.

The mayor's $117,590 salary was found to be lower than the pay of mayors or city managers in four comparable communities -- Elgin, Joliet, Naperville and Waukegan -- by up to $72,000.

"We are way off the curve in regard to what we are paying for that position," Alderman-at-Large Bob O'Connor said.

Mervine suggested the compensation plan that was approved for the mayor, which raises the position's pay to $128,173 following the April 2013 election and gives 3 percent raises each of the next three years. The plan was the middle ground between other ideas suggesting both larger and smaller raises for the post.

"The council felt we needed to make a step, albeit a smaller step because of the economic times, to try to correct this low-paid position," Mervine said.

Peters, along with Aldermen Rick Lawrence and Stephanie Kifowit voted against the measure.

Peters said he supported a more modest proposal, suggested by Weisner, that would have paid the mayor $125,000 beginning in May 2013 with 2.5 percent raises the next three years. He said he does not oppose the compensation plan that was approved, but voted against it to show his support for Weisner's idea.

While the pay increase for the Aurora mayor takes effect when the next term begins, raises approved Tuesday for aldermen will not kick in until 2015. O'Connor, Lawrence, Kifowit and Alderman Al Lewandowski voted against aldermen's raises.

"I feel that it's difficult to make the judgment that it needs to keep increasing," O'Connor said. "I think we're fine with what we have and I don't think we need to make any changes at this point."

A raise approved in 2008 will bring aldermen's pay from $17,771 to $18,304 beginning in May 2013, and the salary will remain at that level in 2014 before the next raises come into effect.

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