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Pay gap closing between Champaign and Urbana employees, benefits remain far apart

Owen Henderson / For CU-CitizenAccess

The gap in earnings for employees in Champaign and Urbana has started closing, according to the latest compensation reports released by both cities. 

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the median earnings for all Champaign employees was $80,657 and the median for Urbana employees was $61,899 — a difference of $18,758. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, that gap closed to $3,004, with the Champaign median earnings at $89,209, and the median salary for Urbana at $86,204. 

However, that gap significantly widens when other benefits are taken into account. These benefits, including health insurance, clothing allowances and more, are tracked separately from earnings and are included in “total compensation”. In Champaign, the median total compensation for all employees is $124,670, whereas in Urbana, the median total compensation is $95,963, resulting in a difference of $28,706. 

Champaign’s compensation reports include all employees, whereas Urbana’s reports only include employees whose total compensation package is more than $75,000. 

Overall, between the two cities, the employees with the top 10 salaries and total compensations are all employed by Champaign.

The employee with the highest salary in either city is Dorothy David, Champaign’s city manager, with a salary of $217,178, but her total compensation is the fourth highest on the list. The highest total compensation between the cities belongs to former Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. His total compensation, $330,603.99, is more than double that of his Urbana counterpart, Bryant Seraphin. 

The total compensation doled out by Champaign totaled $63,881,224, and the city employees’ total earnings were $43,451,422. Out of those, Champaign’s Finance Director, Kay Nees, said $3,401,316 was paid out for overtime, which is 5.32% of the total compensation and 7.83% of the total earnings. 

In Urbana, the total compensation given to employees in 2020-2021 was $14,699,153, and the total paid in salaries was $13,262,675. According to Urbana’s HR and Finance Director, Elizabeth Hannan, $923,639 was for overtime, totalling 6.2% of the total compensation and 6.9% of the total earnings. 

According to Champaign’s report, its 499 employees earned a total of 6,833.15 vacation days. Nees says those vacation days are worth a total of $1,614,056, equaling about $236 per vacation day.

Urbana’s report has its 145 employees earning a total of 1,154.79 vacation days. Hannan says those days are worth $910,502.42, which equals about $788 per day. 

Champaign police remain most compensated employees

When it comes to total compensation, comparing these two data sets is difficult because while Urbana specifically tracks its contributions to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund for employees who are eligible, Champaign tracks pension contributions for all employees, including those who get their pensions from other sources, like the police or firefighters’ unions.

Of Champaign’s 499 employees, 129 are part of the police department, totalling about 26% of the city’s employees. Those 129 employees receive about 28% percent of all earnings and about 33% of the total compensation. But the police employees get more than 51% of Champaign’s contributions to pensions. 

Champaign’s fire department also gets a slightly larger amount of the pension contributions, though not to the same extent as the police. The city’s report lists 123 fire department employees, about 25% of the workers, but a little more than 34% of the pension contributions go to those employees.

Owen Henderson / For CU-CitizenAccess

Comments (1)

  1. Taking and adversarial sports team veiw of compensation is invasive and to what end?
    Why does neither community employ security guards with social service degrees and experience and require private businesses getting tax breaks or submitting bids to do the same? Can’t change police?, change their pool of candidates and support.
    Or as a part of the fire department job criteria why does it not include ambulence training as it is not an essential service funded nationally or state wide?
    Or why does neither town allow the renting of parking spaces to those living in cars since homeless shelters are not an essential service both federally or state wide. The cu ministries shelter the only shelter has been closed since May 10th! How is not addressing that supporting police or safety? Its not like other commnities have not supported social workers or camping.
    That giant bronze football statue on fourth is a dinosaur that promotes articles like this. A monument to bravado that inspires toxic positivity and fear of weathy focus.
    Rag rah siskomba.

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