Annual salary for Chicago aldermen rises to $143,000 a year

Annual salary for Chicago aldermen rises to $143,000 a year

Chicago aldermen had until Sept. 2 to reject a roughly 10% pay raise for next year. The highest-earning council members will make $142,772 starting Jan. 1, 2023 – more than double the city’s median household income.

Sept. 2 was the last day Chicago City Council members could reject a 9.6% pay raise that will hand the highest-paid aldermen nearly double Chicago’s median household income, but only 15 of the 50 aldermen did.

Aldermen currently make $115,000 to $130,00 per year. After a $12,530 raise, the highest-paid aldermen will make $142,772, which is over double Chicago’s median household income of $62,097, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Thanks to a 2006 city ordinance, aldermanic pay raises are tied to inflation, making next year’s raise the highest ever. While property tax hikes are also tied to inflation, they were capped at 2.5% this year. Council pay hikes faced no restrictions.

Ald. Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, said the raise is an insult to constituents reeling with the highest inflation in decades. He was among the 15 aldermen who said “no” to the raises.

“To say that aldermen are somehow deserving of a 10% raise … is a slap in the face to every working family in the city of Chicago struggling to make ends meet. Struggling to take care of their children. We should know better. And if my colleagues can’t be trusted to reject it outright, then it’s time to reevaluate this law that’s been in existence for nearly two decades,” said Lopez, who is running for mayor.

Lopez said he will introduce an ordinance reducing salaries for all council members to $120,000 for the next four years. Raises after that would be capped at 3%. The ordinance would also prohibit council members from outside work, making the city council a full-time job.

Lopez said he believes serving constituents full time eliminates potential conflicts of interest, such as when council members also work as property tax attorneys.

“Being full-time — restricting outside income — would go a long way toward reducing the appearance of impropriety that has long plagued the institution. It’s always the side jobs that apparently get people in trouble,” Lopez said.

Two sitting council members, Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, and Ald. Ed. Burke, 14th Ward, are under indictment for taking bribes. Lopez’ ordinance would be a first step to rooting out corruption, which statewide costs Illinoisans $550 million each year.

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