Aldus. Vasquez seeks to cap Chicago City Council salary increases

Aldus. André Vasquez (40th) is not one of the 17 city councilors who have so far said “no, thank you” to an increase this year. But that doesn’t mean he’s oblivious to the annual political dilemma. In fact, he offers a solution.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Vasquez is presenting an ordinance limiting future pay increases for aldermen to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The language is similar to the automatic property tax escalation that Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed on council in 2021. The 5% cap would go into effect when the new council is sworn in next spring.

Vasquez did not return repeated phone calls or text messages regarding the proposal.

He is the second council member seeking to end the annual political dilemma facing Chicago aldermen, a dilemma that could impact their chances of re-election — particularly this year, when members must decide whether to accept or not a salary increase of 9.62%.

This increase, tied to the rate of inflation, will bring the maximum salary for a Chicago councilman to $142,772.

Challenger at Ald Town Hall. Ray Lopez (15th) is also considering introducing a wage ordinance. It would cut the annual salary of aldermen — both new council members and veterans who have accepted all inflationary pay increases — from $142,772 to $120,000.

His version would cap future salary increases tied to the rate of inflation at 3% and ban outside jobs, forcing aldermen to serve their constituents full-time.

Last week, Ald charged. Edward Burke (14th) and Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th) added their names to the list, making them 15 city council members refusing the pay rise. Burke made the politically popular decision the same day his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke, announced her surprise retirement.

Burke and Nugent joined a list that already included Lopez and fourteen others: Daniel LaSpata (1st); Brian Hopkins (2nd); Nicole Lee (11th); Marty Quinn (13th); Matt O’Shea (19th); Silvana Tabares (23rd); Felix Cardona Jr. (31st); Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th); Gilbert Villegas (36th); Anthony Napolitano (41st); Brendan Reilly (42nd); Tom Tunney (44th); Matt Martin (47th) and Maria Hadden (49th).

Tunney, powerful chairman of the council’s zoning committee, is one of eight veterans not seeking re-election. He still plans to join Lopez and his colleagues Sophia King (4th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th) in the crowded field of candidates seeking to deny Lightfoot a second term.

The eight outgoing members are among 15 of the 50 Council members re-elected in 2019 who have already left or announced their departure.

In 2006, the city council approved a salary increase linked to the rate of inflation and gave itself political cover by passing the supermarket minimum wage ordinance on the same day.

Then-Mayor Richard M. Daley later used his first and only veto to kill the big box ordinance.

Since then, Chicago’s aldermen have been forced to make an annual decision whether to accept the annual raise or turn it down to curry favor with their constituents.

This year, the difficult political situation for aldermen who now earn $130,238 — if they accepted all of the annual pay raises — is amplified by the economic hardship Chicagoans face every day at the grocery store and grocery store. gas pump.

“In 2022, the consumer price index increased by 9.62%. As a result, the adjusted annual salary for aldermen will increase to $142,772 on January 1, 2023,” Budget Director Susie Park wrote in an Aug. 15 memo to members of city council.

Mayoral aspirant Willie Wilson is already using the aldermen’s pay rise as a political argument, tweeting: “Here are the 17 aldermen who turned down the $12,500 raise. Are your aldermen on the list?

Wilson repeatedly dipped into his personal fortune — to the tune of $3.5 million and counting — to fund a series of gas and grocery giveaways.

He argued on Monday that a 5% cap was not enough. He argued that the salary increase for city councilors should be “entirely reversed” and salaries for what he called “part-time employment” should be reduced to a maximum of $70,000.

“These people are not doing their job today. Crime is high. Inflation is high. Now is not the time for people to take any type of raise. I don’t think aldermen should make that much money when they live way above average Chicagoans,” Wilson said.

“It’s a part-time job. Give me a part-time job where I can make $140,000 a year and I can work another job. I’ll take that any day.

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