The discussion was spirited at the recent council meeting about how much council members should be compensated for their service.
The group had a first reading of an ordinance proposed last month by Councilman Steve Chirico, which would get rid of health benefits for council members and instead, increase the council’s salary to $24,000 per year.
The idea of almost doubling council’s salary ruffled the feathers of residents, four of whom addressed the council at the meeting.
“Combine this with the IMEA mess, where one council member said you were asleep at the switch, the smart meter portal disaster we’ve talked about here tonight,” said resident, Jeff Anderson. “Usually an employee asks the boss for a raise when you do a good job.”
Several councilmen responded by reiterating the fact that any changes to compensation would not take effect until after the 2015 election, when all eight seats are up for grabs.
If left unchanged, the next council will get $12,500 each, with the option of health and dental benefits.
Many agreed that the process of deciding compensation has become messy.
“There’s two things you never want to see: sausage being made or laws being passed. This is a great example of this,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “It’s like a plane crash on top of a train wreck. And that’s unfortunate. At the end of the day I do think we will get to the right place. For me the right place is $12,500 with no benefits.”
Others said the decision isn’t simply black and white.
“I’m disturbed that people think there is a moral high ground here in making one choice over another. They are all good choices; they are all choices that many fine communities use,” said Councilwoman Judy Brodhead.
After a heated debate the group decided to direct staff to change the proposal to $20,000 all in.
The potential savings of the plan ranges from $11,000 to $75,000 annually, depending on how many members take health care. Currently, only five do.
In the end, Chirico says he just wants to find the best compromise.
“We’re never going to have anyone’s support in one number,” said Chirico. “Some people think we should be working for free and others think we should be making what the county and forest preserve make. We’re never going to have an agreement on that, but if we can find a place that is a step in the right direction, then that’s what I’m trying to accomplish.”
Also at the meeting the City of Naperville recognized a distinguished guest.
Mayor Pradel and the city council presented the Honorable Zhao Weiping, Chinese Consul General, with honorary Naperville citizenship.
The visit was coordinated by Naperville’s Chairman of Chinese Outreach, Bill Liu.
“This gesture means friendship, a growing friendship, and strengthens the relationship between Naperville and China,” said Weiping. “It means responsibility, a responsibility for me to work to grow this relationship.”
In return, Zhao presented the mayor with a gift. The Consul General also gave a presentation at local company Sikich on the future of China-U.S. economic cooperation.
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