Five aldermen refuse salary increase for next year

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Five aldermen are refusing a 5.5% cost of living increase they granted them next year, but the majority of city council members will see their salaries increase in a few months.

The five accepting the increase are a mix of aldermen from the north, northwest, and southwest sides, all in their first or second terms on the board.

The aldermen on the southwest side Raymond Lopez (15th) and Silvana Tabares (23rd), the aldermen on the northwest side Felix Cardona (31st) and Gilbert Villegas (36th) and the north side Ald. Matt Martin (47th) has all handed over papers to the city to refuse the salary increase, which will begin on January 1.

Lopez, Cardona and Martin will continue to earn $ 122,304 in 2022, while Villegas will earn $ 115,560 and Tabares’ salary will remain at $ 123,504.

City budget officials did not immediately respond to questions about why salaries differ.

Martin, first elected of the North Side 47e Ward two years ago said not to make the adjustment was a “personal decision”.

With the pandemic “presenting the kind of financial challenges it has for so many people inside and outside of government, what is usually something that is a very minor problem, if not a non-problem, takes on added significance.” .

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) attends his first Chicago city council meeting in 2019.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times File

“When I look at my own situation and reflect on the many challenges that my neighborhood and my city have faced, I think it’s the best personal decision for me to forgo this year’s cost of living adjustment. Martin said.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) initially appeared to reject the raise of $ 6,734, but changed his mind. He will see his salary go from $ 123,504 to $ 130,238.

Cardenas said it was a “misunderstanding” caused by a member of his staff preparing the wrong document and returning it to city officials.

“I’m taking the increase,” Cardenas said. “It’s not about the money – [the consumer price index] take care of that … I’m applying for a job that pays $ 30,000 less than what I would earn, so it’s not about the money.

Cardenas, who is running for a seat on the Cook County Review Board, and 29 others will see their salaries rise to $ 130,238.

Ald.  George Cardenas (12th) speaks at a city council meeting in May.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) speaks at a city council meeting in May.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file

This includes city councilors Carrie Austin (34th) and Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), both federally charged but who have pleaded not guilty.

Thompson, nephew of a former Chicago mayor and grandson of another, was charged in April with misrepresenting and filing false income tax returns.

The second-longest-serving Council member, Austin is accused of accepting bribes in the form of home improvements, including new kitchen cabinets and granite countertops, from a developer who asked for his help to send a project to the town hall.

The Far South Side alderman is also accused of lying to FBI agents who sought to question him about the benefits.

The third serving alderman under federal indictment, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), will see his salary drop from $ 114,192 to $ 120,406, according to city figures. With his 52-year tenure making him the longest-serving alderman, Burke was charged with racketeering in a 59-page indictment in 2019, but also pleaded not guilty.

Ald.  Edward Burke in 2019

Ald. Edward Burke in 2019
Fran Spielman / Sun-Times file

Thompson, Austin and Burke did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the pay rise.

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), who apologized to city council on Tuesday for the “offensive” texts he sent in 2019, will also earn $ 130,238 in the new year, up from $ 123,504.

Ald also takes the increase. Nick Sposato (38th) who joined the Board in 2011 and did not take the raises in his first four years.

“I’ve made my sacrifices already so I have no problem taking a raise now,” said Northwest Side alderman. “I work really hard. I work 70 hours a week fairly regularly, maybe in the winter it’s more like a 60 hour week job, unless there is no thunderstorm or something. like that … I’m not going to say I’m the toughest alderman, but I bet all I sure am, one of the two or three hardest-working aldermen in town.

Sposato’s current salary puts him in a three-way tie for fourth lowest on city council with councilors Matt O’Shea (19th) and Tom Tunney (44th). Once the pay raise is in place, all three will earn $ 119,984.

Historically, few members of City Council reject salary increases.

In 2008, faced with a deficit of $ 420 million – and over 1,000 layoffs – few aldermen chose to forgo a 6.2% increase, even when the city’s budget manager personally told them. asked to do so.

“Kiss my king,” replied the late Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) gave the request when a reporter asked him about it. “Under no circumstances will I give up my salary increase. “

Salary increases were first linked to the rate of inflation in 2006.


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