Elected officials’ salaries may go to vote
Burr Ridge residents may get a say this fall on village trustees’ pay and whether elected officials in the municipality should face term limits.
During budget discussions this week, trustees talked about the possibility of putting referendums on the ballot in November addressing the two issues. Village officials will likely talk about wording for the referendum questions at one of two Village Board meetings in April.
While the annual $24,000 in village officials’ salaries is less than 0.25 percent of the budget, some trustees have questioned whether a village that has had to cut personnel should be paying its elected officials.
Trustee Janet Ryan Grasso said she is fine with the officials’ pay question going before the public, but said she does not feel the $250 per month that trustees each receive is something that should be wrestled over. She said trustees make sacrifices and that the monthly stipend is not out of line.
“We have our second budget meeting Thursday night,” Grasso said at Monday’s budget talks. “I gave away a trip worth $1,200 because I felt it is important for me to be at the budget meeting.”
Grasso said the people she has spoken to think Burr Ridge trustees’ pay is not unusual and “most think we should be paid more.”
While Burr Ridge ranks second of 10 local municipalities for mayoral and trustee pay — with Mayor Mickey Straub earning $6,000 annually and trustees getting $3,000 annually — Straub pointed out a wider view shows of 34 area municipalities Burr Ridge ranks 25th in employee compensation.
“But I would like to see both questions (pay and term limits) put on the ballot,” Straub said.
Oakbrook Terrace ranks highest among local communities, with its mayor getting $8,000, but trustees earn $3,000 annually like in Burr Ridge. Indian Head Park pays its mayor and trustees the same rate as Burr Ridge.
Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Western Springs and LaGrange Park do not pay their elected officials, nor do area school districts.
Burr Ridge Trustee Diane Bolos said no one is serving for the money and doesn’t feel payment is required.
“When we were new officials, we did it as volunteers,” Bolos said.
Burr Ridge increased its compensation for officials in 2008, raising the mayor’s salary from $1,200 to $6,000 per year and the trustees going from no compensation to $3,000 per year. As per state law, the increases did not go into effect until after individuals who voted on the measure were re-elected or new members joined the board.
Should Burr Ridge trustees decide to eliminate or change elected officials’ salaries, any changes would not go into effect until after the 2015 elections for three trustees, and after the 2017 elections for the mayor and the three other trustees
Trustee Guy Franzese said he is favor of trustees not paying paid, but felt it should be the trustees who make that call and not residents via referendum.
“We are the people who have to make the decisions to balance the budget” and other issues, Franzese said.
Longtime Trustee Al Paveza said term limits was never an issue in the village in the past.
“It never came up,” Paveza said. “If people thought the board was doing a good job and the village was doing a good job, then they were happy.”