The Oswego Village Board will continue its discussion over a village staff proposal to increase the salary of the village president and the meeting stipends paid to members of the village’s planning and zoning commission.
During a committee-of-the-whole meeting Tuesday, Jan. 11, Village Administrator Dan DiSano presented the proposal to the board which included an analysis of the compensation levels of officials in other area municipalities and townships.
The position of village president is considered to be part-time. In addition to the current base salary of $6,600, the village president can earn up to $8,400 annually in base salary and meeting fees.
The proposal recommends the village president’s annual base salary be increased to $12,000. With meeting fees, the maximum amount the village president could earn each year under the proposal would be $15,000.
The proposal also calls for a doubling of meeting stipends for planning and zoning commissioners from $25 to $50.
Commissioners currently can earn a maximum of $300 in annual meeting stipends. The proposal would serve to double that to $600.
DiSanto noted the last time the board adjusted the compensation levels was in 2006.
State law bars the board and other elected officials from increasing their own compensation. As a result, any increase the board might approve would not go into effect until after the next village election in 2023.
DiSanto suggested that the village could follow the lead of Yorkville which recently reassessed and approved a new compensation plan for the city’s elected officials. The Yorkville plan has 3 components: a base salary, a 2% escalation by year, and a payment per meeting.
DiSanto noted that under the plan the Yorkville mayor will be paid a $14,400 annual salary as well as $150 per meeting.
In discussing the proposal, board member Kit Kuhrt voiced concerns and suggested the board put the issue before village voters in a referendum.
“No. I don’t like Yorkville,” Kuhrt said, adding, “I think we need to have discussions about this...We don’t have to follow the template of another town.”
Kuhrt also suggested that village residents be allowed to vote on the proposal.
“I’m not a politician, I’ve never been a politician. I’m not good at this,” he said. “I think these salaries are kept low for a reason, to keep people from running for office. We could come up with a salary for ourselves and put it to a vote for the public.”
However, Karl Ottosen, village attorney, said the board could place an advisory referendum on the ballot, but advised board members they are elected to make decisions, including the setting the compensation levels for the village’s elected and appointed officials.
“You’re elected to make these decisions and not to send these decisions back to the public that you are representing,” Ottoesen said.
Kuhrt said he was in favor of increasing the compensation of elected officials.
“Let’s be trendsetters, we might attract good candidates moving forward,” he said, “If the pay’s higher, people may be willing to give their time.”
The board agreed to bring the issue back to a future meeting for further discussion.