BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The Board of Alderman in the City of Belleville decided to hike their pay over the objections of the town’s mayor, who says it is not the right time.

Aldermen will raise their salary from around $11,419 to $12,478 over four years, which is a 12 percent pay increase.

Initially, aldermen proposed a 3 ½ percent pay raise for themselves, which would have resulted in a 14 percent pay hike. They later decided to drop the increase back to 3 percent a year.

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Alderman Raffi Ovian is one of those pushing for this deal.

“We haven’t had a pay raise for 10 years, as you know, in 2022, gas prices went through the roof, cost of living has gone through the roof with inflation,” Ovian said.

He said they must play catch-up.

“Other communities around us pay their aldermen a lot more money than we make,” Ovian said. “And it’s long overdue that we go ahead and basically bring our salaries up to at least what other communities are getting.”

These are what the aldermen are getting from some cities in Illinois counties:

Fairview Heights pays aldermen – $9,600 a year
Edwardsville – $6,000 a year
O’Fallon – $4,800 a year
Collinsville – $3,000 a year

Belleville Mayor Patty Gregory is one of those opposed to the wage increase for the aldermen.

“Well, I was disappointed. I did not agree with it,” she said. “Just felt that we are in a place where we don’t know what’s going to be happening financially, and it’s across the whole country.”

Gregory said her department heads just got 2 percent. She claims that because the country is facing a possible recession, now is not the time for raises.

“I felt that was not appropriate for our citizens,” Gregory said. “I’m here for our citizens of Belleville, and to me, it gave the wrong impression the way they presented it.”

She said she has heard from a lot of Belleville citizens who do not like it at all.

Ovian responded to the mayor’s comments about the pay raise.

“That’s okay, you disagree with someone,” he said. “I do that all the time, that’s the reason why I’m an independent.”