Mayoral and Aldermanic Salaries

Aldermen, City government

Comparison data of city executive pay was published last week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. By city executive, they mean mayor/village president and city administrator/manager. Unlike some other cities, New Berlin does not employ a city administrator. It relies on its mayor to perform those duties.

Among the suburban communities listed, New Berlin’s had the second lowest city executive pay-$83,772. (Greenfield at $73,472 was lowest.) However, Greenfield’s mayor appears to have more generous fringe benefits/expense allowance than New Berlin’s)   According to the chart, the mayor of Greenfield gets full benefits plus $300/month expenses; $200/month mileage. New Berlin’s mayor receives health benefits; no vacation or sick days; $100/month expenses.
Click here to view the Journal Sentinel’s chart of comparison data.

You may recall that in January 2009, the New Berlin Common Council voted to reduce the mayor’s salary from $90,634 to $83,772.   Ald. Ament made the motion. When the Council meeting adjourned, I asked Ald. Ament whether he had ever taken action to reduce aldermanic pay. He replied, “no”.

A New Berlin alderman receives $7000 salary plus $250/month expense allowance (total= $10,000 annually). The Council President receives an additional $600. According to the City Accounting Manager, all of our current aldermen chose the “non-accountable” plan and do not  have to provide the City with receipts, other documentation, or even an explanation for what they did with the money.

The minutes of the September budget talks indicate the mayor presented a $73,847 Common Council budget. He proposed “ reducing aldermanic salaries by $1000 and the expense accounts by $100 while keeping the Council President the same for the expense account due to all the comments that we are all feeling the pain here”. Well, the aldermen did not support that cut in their own pay—not even during these tough economic times. They voted unanimously to increase the Common Council budget to $86,119.

Curious about how a New Berlin alderman’ s pay compares with what other aldermen in the area are getting, I started doing some research. Whew. I discovered that what New Berlin pays an alderman is at the top of the pay scale among area suburbs. Every community I checked, including Greenfield, Franklin, Oak Creek, West Allis, Brookfield, Mequon, Cudahy, Menomonee Falls, Pewaukee, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, paid an alderman less than what New Berlin does. 
Some examples: Wauwatosa alderman get $4,200, no expense allowance. Aldermen in Waukesha are paid an annual salary of $6,500 and have no expense allowance--and they’ve taken action to freeze that compensation amount through the year 2013. Mequon aldermen receive $4,800 annually, no expense account. Franklin aldermen receive $7,200 salary plus $1,800 for mileage/expenses ($9,000). In Brookfield, aldermen get $9,911 annual compensation, no expense allowance.

Can New Berlin aldermen realy justify receiving higher taxpayer-funded pay than other aldermen? In this tough economy? Why can’t they pay for expenses out of their $7000 annual part time salaries? And don’t forget that our New Berlin aldermen receive a generous expense allowance without having to furnish receipts to the City/account to taxpayers for how it was spent.

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