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posted: 5/21/2014 5:30 AM

Lots of talk but no change to Naperville council salaries, benefits

Naperville council can't agree on tweaks

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Naperville City Council members who have spent hours discussing whether future council members should be eligible for health insurance and if their salaries should be increased voted twice but made no changes Tuesday night.

Council members elected beginning after spring 2015 will be paid a yearly salary of $12,500 and will be eligible to purchase health care benefits by paying 20 percent of the premium.

That amount of compensation was spelled out in the city code in December, when council members voted to roll a previous cellphone and Internet stipend into the salary, decreasing total pay by $200.

Since then, council members have voted to end their participation in pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and spent three meetings discussing whether future council members should be allowed to receive city-subsidized health insurance.

But votes on two compensation options that would have removed health insurance eligibility failed Tuesday night.

The first would have kept salaries at $12,500 a year. Council members Paul Hinterlong, Grant Wehrli and Steve Chirico, who supported that idea, were on the losing end of a 6-3 vote.

The second option would have increased salaries for future council members to $20,000 a year, while still removing health insurance eligibility. Four council members -- Judith Brodhead, Robert Fieseler, Chirico and David Wentz -- supported that level of pay, but five others opposed it.

Mayor George Pradel spoke for the first time in any of the meetings concerning council compensation and said he was uncomfortable with completely removing the ability for future elected officials to receive health insurance through the city.

"We need to treat our elected officials well and expect the very best out of them all the time," Pradel said. "We should be able to buy insurance at no cost to the taxpayers. ... Speaking as a taxpayer, I was taken aback a little bit when it said we couldn't purchase any of the benefits at any cost."

Several on the council called the issue of pay and benefits for their future counterparts "divisive," and when motions failed to eliminate health insurance at both the $12,500 and $20,000 proposed compensation levels, council member Doug Krause asked for the topic to be "tabled indefinitely."

City attorney Pat Lord said that couldn't technically happen because after two failed votes, there was no proposal left about council compensation to table. The topic can be brought forward again in the new business section at the end of each council meeting if any council member so chooses, she said.

In separate action, the council also decided not to end health insurance eligibility or change future pay for the position of mayor. The next person elected as mayor of Naperville will be paid $25,070 plus $5,000 for serving as liquor commissioner, and health insurance will be available if the mayor contributes 20 percent of the premium.

Benefits: Future council members will still be eligible for health insurance

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