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NORMAL — Town officials acknowledged Monday how strange it is to vote to increase their own pay.

"Because there's a stigma assigned to public officials voting a raise for ... the offices they currently fill, it does become kind of a difficult thing to land on a number that works," said Normal City Council member Jeff Fritzen. "The job description is built by the individual. ... How do you build an appropriate salary to that?"

Nonetheless, members approved big pay hikes for the mayor and council members. Those increases will take effect in 2021 for the mayor and half of the council and 2023 for the remaining council members.

Mayor Chris Koos said he was a big proponent of increasing the salaries, from $18,000 to $32,000 for the mayor and from $4,800 to $6,800 for council members. Officials and staff said the salaries haven't been changed in several years, and the duties of the offices have increased during that time.

Koos, who owns and operates Vitesse Cycle Shop and Often Running in addition to serving as mayor part time, estimated he loses $45,000 per year to be mayor.

Chemberly Cummings, R.C. McBride, Kevin McCarthy and Koos voted to increase the mayoral salary. Fritzen and Kathleen Lorenz voted "no." Scott Preston did not attend Monday's meeting.

"Our budget last year wasn't great. I don't know that our budget in the coming year is going to be notably better. I just question whether any raise, even a more reasonable number, is a mission-critical step we need to take this year," said Lorenz. "This is not the time to obligate ourselves to a large (expenditure), even in the future."

Fritzen also proposed an amendment that would have increased the mayor's salary to only $25,000, which he said reflects regular, annual cost-of-living increases. Only he and McCarthy supported it.

Cummings, Fritzen, Koos and McCarthy voted "yes" on increasing council pay. Lorenz and McBride, who are up for re-election in April, voted "no."

Fritzen proposed an amendment increasing council pay to only $6,000 that also failed after only he supported it.

"We can be partial in what we do, but we wouldn't be sitting in this building right now," said Cummings. "The pressures upon us are changing, and we have to be willing to change with it."

Marc Tiritilli, who lost an extremely close mayoral race to Koos in 2017, said he'd like more proof the mayor's duties have changed enough to merit a nearly 80 percent pay increase. He suggested the position could be done in 10 hours per week.

"If this is a 40-hour-a-week position, let's make it full time," he said. "I don't need the $32,000 to make this work, and I'm sure others would be able to do it (without that) as well."

Beer Nuts President Andy Shirk told the council he supports the increases.

"In my professional opinion, you deserve to work for more than peanuts," he said.

In other business, the council:

• Approved the town's Community Investment Plan, a five-year capital spending projection. This year's plan includes an increase in sewer spending.

• Appointed Tracie Henry to the Children's Discovery Museum Foundation board; Ryan Apple, Patrick Clapper and Sally Modine to the Bloomington-Normal Asahikawa Sister City Committee; and Lorenz, McCarthy, Mgidi Tembo and Beth Whisman to the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board.

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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