Aldermanic, mayoral salaries revisited by board

Salaries for aldermen, mayor have not been changed since February 1996

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Green Park City Hall.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Green Park Board of Aldermen discussed aldermanic salaries at its meeting last week after a former alderman suggested raising the salary to attract younger residents to run for office. 

The Board of Aldermen briefly discussed the mayor and aldermen’s salaries at the board meeting Oct. 18, after former Ward 2 James Jones brought the topic up during public comment at the meeting the prior month. 

“My personal opinion – I think with the changing of the times and, no offense, but the board – the system is almost set up for older people who are financially stable,” said Jones at the September meeting. “The younger crowd or adults you would say … the incentive to do any kind of work like that, they’re not going to look … they’re not going to think of it twice. In other municipalities, that’s how they attract younger and that’s how they have more aggressive candidacy, and people fight for it.” 

Green Park’s current aldermanic salary is $250 monthly or $3,000 a year. The board president’s salary is $300 monthly or $3,600 a year. The mayor’s monthly salary is $450, or $5,400 yearly. 

Elected officials pay was set by ordinance in February 1996 and has not been changed since. 

It’s the board’s discretion to set its own pay rate, however, any pay rate changes are not effective until after the next election, said City Administrator James Mello. No sitting elected official can raise their own pay during their term in office. 

If the board voted to raise the salary, it would go into effect for any wards up for election next April, and then go into effect for the other wards up for election in April 2023. 

“When I first became an alderman … I didn’t realize it was a paid thing. I took it on as a citizen responsibility and community contribution,” said Mayor Tim Thuston, who served as Ward 2 alderman for several years. “Everybody wants to have more but personally, I think most of us do it for civic responsibility reasons and not financial reasons. … To raise it … (so) that it’s going to bring in younger and more interested parties, I don’t necessarily think that’s the right reason.” 

Thuston was re-elected to his second term as mayor in April, and has repeatedly identified encouraging more residents, particularly younger residents, to run for office as a priority of his. He has had to appoint several aldermen over the course of his tenure of mayor after some wards did not have anyone file to run for alderman in some of the previous elections, or when other aldermen move out of the city. 

“I may have considered it prior to hearing what James Jones said. That was a little off to me, maybe because of my age bracket. We do things because it’s the right thing to do, you volunteer for things because it is the right thing to do,” said Ward 1 Alderman Carol Hamilton, who ran unopposed for her seat in April. “The whole idea that was presented toward all of us, that we have money because we’re older, that didn’t make sense to me. … If that’s the motivation to get people to run by dangling a sack of cash in front of them, I don’t want that person representing my area.”

Board President Joe Monteleone said that he had served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for several years, which is an unpaid position, and that he took on the commission position and elected official role “not for the money” but so that all Green Park residents “have a fair chance of staying here and liking it.” 

Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Farwig, who is currently the youngest member of the board, said he agreed with the others and felt that they were paid fairly. Farwig was first elected in 2019, and ran unopposed for his second term in April. 

“I didn’t think it was paid, I didn’t ask about money (when I ran). … I don’t feel like I’m underpaid … I feel this is a civic duty,” Farwig said. 

The board decided not to take any further action regarding the salaries.