Last week we told you about an ordinance before the city council to increase elected officials' pay. The ordinance was sent back to the finance committee in the hopes that changes would be made. But as of Monday night, 23 News has learned that the salary raises only have one more final vote before the paychecks will change for good.
In the midst of a $90,000 budget deficit comes an increase to elected officials take home pay. The move is close to being finalized. A proposed ordinance would increase the mayor, city clerk, treasurers, and alderman's salaries.
At the heart of the Belvidere city council's money matters is an issue surrounding Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton. Under the proposal, the mayor's salary would increase by 3.75% in each of the next four years. That would mean by 2008 Mayor Brereton would make about $57,000. Currently the Mayor makes $49,000. Mayor Brereton says there’s no need that this should alarm residents, saying the city is a well running machine.
City council member Jim Wise says the raises are reasonable. Wise says with the population increase, the city should bring in added revenue. Belvidere is unique as the Mayor also doubles as the city administrator so this has become a full time job. Even still, alderman Percy Gordon kept repeating that in a second year of deficit spending it's not the right time to increase salaries for anyone.
The raises have to go into effect now so that in November anyone who is running knows the pay. But that could also be a time when voters will have their say if in fact this decision is too costly for the city of Belvidere.