City Council OK’s 2 percent raise for attorney

David Schreiber, of Madison, Wis., speaks to City Council Monday on improvements for the NIU campus and readily accessible transportation from campus to downtown DeKalb.

By Ali Combs

City attorney Dean Frieders can breathe: His salary will see an increase in line with city staff and other private contractors who work with the city.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, members approved an increase to Frieders’ salary which was debated at the June 24 meeting. With the raise, he will make about $208,000 a year.

After the June 24 debate, council members voted to approve a contract with the attorney without a raise. The resolution was brought back for a second reading and approved 6-1.

Third ward alderman Kristen Lash was not present to vote on Frieders’ contract at the June 24 meeting due to a health issue. Lash said she was “quite literally stunned” when she later learned Frieders’ raise was voted down while economic development coordinator Roger Hopkins, who is also a private contractor, was approved for a raise.

Lash said Frieders does a good job for the city and deserves to receive the same raise other city personnel have received this year.

“I think you deserve the 2 percent for rewriting the liquor code alone,” Lash said to Frieders.

Frieders played a key role in entirely rewriting the city’s liquor code, which was approved this year.

Mayor John Rey, who voted in favor of the raise, said this change is in line to what communities similar to DeKalb are offering their private contractors.

“We are not paying exorbitant costs in salaries in the city of DeKalb,” Rey said. “I think that’ll be further proven as we move into a comprehensive pay study that will look at comparable salaries across comparable communities. I think we’ll see that DeKalb is probably in the middle or possibly even the lower end of those market salaries of other comparable communities.”

The city currently works on the basis of a step plan as an outline for salaries and raises in city staff and management, where those individuals are given raises based on a set of goals and the number of years they’ve worked with the city.

Second ward alderman Bill Finucane said the 2 percent increase is fair, but the entire process will likely be revamped soon.

“The 2 percent is a well-deserved increase for management, particularly, who are no longer covered by the step process,” Finucane said. “The fact that they give some of the city staff a little bit more, we understand that, but I think we’re definitely … going to look at the step plan and the overall compensation package the city provides.

“I think particularly with the new city manager coming in it’s an appropriate time to do all that and look at the way the city handles raises each year.”

The contract Frieders has signed with the city is for one year, but he said there are other options to consider in the future.

“This is for a one-year term, but if [a longer contract term] is something that council is interested in, I’d entertain that,” Frieders said.

Frieders also noted that, as the contract is written, he could be terminated by the city at any time if the council is not satisfied with his services, but as it stands, Frieders will be with DeKalb for another calendar year.