Council members won’t get paid for chronic absences

Brock A. Stein | 3/16/2017, 6 a.m.
Joliet City Council members who habitually miss the city’s twice-monthly public meetings will no longer continue to be paid after ...
The Joliet City Council Photo by Brock A. Stein

Joliet City Council members who habitually miss the city’s twice-monthly public meetings will no longer continue to be paid after notching 5 absences.

The city council voted last week to approve the amendment that will stop pay for council members who continue to miss meetings.

Under the new rules, a council member who misses 5 meetings within a 52-week, rolling calendar, won’t be paid for their next missed meeting.

Council member Jan Quillman said that she asked for the city’s staff to look in to making the change after seeing chronic absenteeism on previous incarnations of the city council.

“I’ve noticed certain council members have missed many, many meetings,” said Quillman who said that she doesn’t see it as a problem with the current board. Quillman said that chronic absences in the past have meant that “we were stuck with no representation for that district.”

“They represent the people of Joliet and they get paid even if they don’t show up.”

According to a 2016 payroll summary report from the City of Joliet’s website, city council members earn a base salary of $18,897.27 per year. That equates to just over $1,574 per month or $787 per meeting during months where the city holds only two regular council meetings.

City Attorney Martin Shanahan said that the penalty would be for missing full city council meetings in which votes are being cast typically held on the first and 3rd Tuesday each month. Council members would not be penalized for missing non-voting meetings or committee meetings. There are no exceptions for missing meetings for health reasons said Quillman who said that she wants to also see a future provision for appointing a representative to take the place of someone who can’t attend but also refuses to resign their seat.

Quillman said that anyone thinking of running for office should understand that the position comes with responsibilities that they attend on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

“You have to be at your job at the city council representing the people that elected you to do this job,” she said. Whatever the results of the 15-person election for three open council seats in April, her own included, Quillman said that she’s “looking to try to protect the citizens down the road so that they have representation from the people that they elected to the job.”

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk agreed, saying, “You probably shouldn’t expect to get paid if you’re not performing your job.”