DeKalb city commissioners, committee members won’t be paid for their appointments

DeKalb City Hall along Lincoln Highway

DeKALB – DeKalb residents serving on city committees and commissions won’t be paid while in their appointed roles, a move made at the direction of the DeKalb City Council this week.

DeKalb planning and zoning commission members, along with the city’s police and fire commission members and the rest of the 14 total city boards and commissions, will no longer receive financial compensation for serving on those boards. Not all city board or committee members were paid anyway, said city officials. However, members of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners were receiving what the city called “a token compensation for some years.”

According to city documents, police and fire members were paid $10 per meeting if they attended, and zoning commissioners $25 per meeting. The payments were authorized by department heads.

“No one currently employed by the city was responsible for this ‘consideration,’ which came as a surprise to many,” city staff wrote in documents ahead of this week’s meeting.

Over the past month, DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said he spoke with members of the zoning and police and fire commissions, who agreed in public meetings to forego the pay. He said if the city were to proceed with commission pay it would be difficult to determine fair compensation per board.

“So my recommendation to you is to stop paying them, as they have asked, and to not enact any compensation for the other 12 boards and commissions,” Nicklas said to the city council Monday.

The city boards and committees, which total about 90 DeKalb residents in monthly and sometimes bimonthly meetings, according to city documents, often serve in advisory capacities for the government. The boards are made up of people appointed by the mayor to fill a term, and offer debate and feedback to the council, without holding final policy-making power, which remains with the council.

The Planning and Zoning commission, for instance, vets development projects and license and permit proposals before plans go to the city council for formal votes. The police and fire commission plays a role in the hiring of new employees to the first responder departments, and vets candidates for rank promotions.

The city council directed Nicklas this week to move forward without future payments for any board, committee and commission members.

The issue was first brought to the attention of city officials by community members months before, following past commission members who requested their compensation be waived.

“I appreciate the city manager addressing this in a timely fashion after it came to our attention,” First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris said.