YORKVILLE – Do the citizens of Yorkville want a larger city council to serve them and are they willing to pay for it?
That will be the question for residents on a survey to be posted on the city’s website and social media platforms.
The Yorkville City Council is contemplating an increase in its membership to 10 aldermen, as part of a required ward redistricting that is resulting from the 2020 Census.
Currently, there are eight members of the council, two each from the city’s four wards.
The city’s population now stands at 21,533, meaning that under state statute the council may add one or even two wards, increasing its size to 10 or 14 aldermen.
Aldermen have ruled out an expansion to 14 but are giving serious consideration to an arrangement with five wards and 10 council members.
The survey asks residents if they favor an expansion to 10 aldermen with five wards or retain the existing system of eight council members from four wards.
“The move to five wards and 10 aldermen would decrease the number of people in each ward (better representation) but result in more aldermen (more cost),” according to the survey’s language.
Once ward lines have been redrawn to reflect the population change, the current four-ward arrangement provides for 5,383 residents per ward.
However, dividing the city into five wards would work out to about 4,306 people per ward, ostensibly providing for increased representation.
Two additional aldermen would result in additional salary costs for the city.
Currently, aldermen are paid a base salary of $3,600 per year, plus $100 for each city council meeting attended, according to Finance Director Rob Frederickson.
After the spring 2023 election, those figures will increase under an ordinance that was approved by the council in March of 2020.
The aldermanic base salary will increase to $5,500 per year and the payment for attending council meetings will go to $150.
Starting on May 1, 2024 the base salary for aldermen is scheduled to increase by 2% on an annual basis, under the ordinance.
That same ordinance also will increase the compensation package paid to the mayor.
Currently, the mayor receives a base salary of $7,500 per year, plus $1,000 annually for his role as liquor control commissioner. The mayor also is paid $100 for each council meeting attended.
Under the salary increase ordinance taking effect after the 2023 election, the mayor’s base pay will go to $14,400, without a separate payment for serving as liquor commissioner.
Like the aldermen, the mayor’s base salary will increase 2% annually starting May 1, 2024, while the meeting attendance per diem will go to $150 after the 2023 election.
If the council chooses to remain under the current arrangement or go to five wards with 10 aldermen, it must take action within one year.
Otherwise, state law provides that for cities of more than 20,000 residents, the default is seven wards with 14 aldermen.
Ten years ago the city’s population had reached 16,921 and expanding to five wards with 10 aldermen was an option, but city officials decided to stay with four wards and eight aldermen.
Mayor John Purcell has indicated that he favors the current arrangement of four wards and eight aldermen, while several aldermen said they believe a larger council would provide for better representation. In any case, the city’s ward boundary lines will need to be redrawn, in order to make the number of residents in each ward as nearly equal as practicable.
The reapportionment takes place every 10 years in order to reflect population changes resulting from the Census.