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updated: 12/4/2013 12:59 AM

Naperville changes pay for new city council members

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Naperville City Council on Tuesday night approved what was described as a "minor change" to the salaries of future members, decreasing annual compensation by $200 for those who join the council after the spring 2015 election.

Council members seated after the next election -- when all eight at-large positions will be available -- will be paid a $12,500 annual salary beginning May 3, 2015. They also will be entitled to health insurance coverage on the same terms as city employees, who are required to contribute 20 percent of the premium for their chosen plan, and they will be allowed to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The $200 decrease comes from eliminating a $1,200 combined annual stipend for cellphone and Internet use and instead raising each council member's base salary by $1,000 a year. City Attorney Margo Ely said the city arrived at the round number of $12,500 starting in May 2015 by estimating the increase in the consumer price index between now and then.

Council member salaries will continue to be adjusted each year by the increase in the consumer price index or by 3 percent, whichever is less.

The adjustment to salaries passed 8-1, with Councilman Grant Wehrli in opposition. He said he thinks salaries are too high and the $200 decrease did not go far enough. At a previous meeting, he tried to begin a conversation about whether council members should be eligible for pensions, but others turned the conversation to different aspects of the topic.

"I think we've missed a wonderful opportunity to have a very full and open and transparent discussion about the role and job description of a councilman," Wehrli said.

Elected municipal representatives are not allowed to change their own salaries, but they can adjust the pay and benefits for those in their seats after an election. Tuesday night's action was the first time Naperville council members adjusted the salaries for their future counterparts in roughly a decade, according to a city memo. The council plans to discuss the salary for the position of mayor during a workshop in January.

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