Sunday, August 26, 2007

Council Pay

City Council pay was in the news again last week.

The DHT covered the discussion at a General Government Services meeting on Monday the 20th. The newspaper article is generally accurate even if the headline "Council Seeking Pay Hike" is a little off.... the issue came to council because we have a policy from 2002 that says in the third year of a term the out going council will set the salary for the next term and the new council. At that meeting staff brought forward a report salaries and recommendation to increase the base salary for Alderman to $25 000 with and additional $3000 for time spent as Deputy Mayor. The Per Diem rates were also changed from $150 for a full day out of the city to $200 for a full day and $100 for a half day. All of this would become effective October 22nd, after the election for the new council. The actual motion from the committee was this:

"MOVED by Mayor Ayling the Committee recommend Council approve that:

1. the Mayor’s salary be set at $75,000, effective October 22, 2007,

2. the Aldermen’s salary be set at $28,000, effective October 22, 2007 (based on $25,000 salary plus $3,000 acting pay for Deputy Mayor duties), and,

3. the Per Diem rate be set at $200/day and $100/half day, effective October 22, 2007.


MOVED by Mayor Ayling the Committee refer the matter of a full review of Council remuneration to a future Committee meeting post October 15, 2007.


Two things about the actions suggested by the motion...

First - I'm not sure I'm a fan of Per Diems. In my opinion it would be better to do away with them all together and put in a proper salary that reflects the job. I think this would be a lot clearer for the public and it removes the temptation for elected officials to become professional meeting-goers. It would also ensure that each member of council is paid the same - then it's up to the public to decide if they are all putting in roughly equal time.

Second - This leaves the Council after the election having to do a full review of council pay after jut being elected. I hope part of that would be the question of if the job of Alderman is a "part-time" job and should it pay like one? That's a tough spot to put a new council in - would they decide to change things? Would they make it effective for that term or would they make it effective three years down the road? For the record, my feeling is that if it's an issue and a change needs to be made then it should be done right away. I would have liked to see this come forward a few months ago so people thinking about running for council would have all the information about what pay for the next term would be. Maybe we would have a few more people decide to run, and that would be a good thing. (If you are interested in running I've posted info on what to do.) More importantly the votes would know what job they are electing someone to.

Since the first newspaper article there has been a follow up article to gauge resident reaction and of course letters to the editor. This week's GP INK had an editorial which I made a point I really agree with:

"With an election only a few months away, be careful when listening to and reading comments from candidates on this issue. There will be those who take their lumps and those who seek to gain political mileage from the pay raise issue.

Some will want to have their electoral cake and eat it too, so resist the temptation of having this issue become the key issue in the coming campaign. "

I agree with this point in the editorial because the discussion comes up over what amounts to a total cost of $52 992 ($6624 x 8 Positions). The people elected to council in October will be in charge of the City's operating budget, which in 2006 was just shy of $60 Million dollars.

So, what's your opinion on the whole issue? Use the Comments to have your say.

Oh and before I finish....

I've mentioned council salaries before where I provided the 2005 numbers of all City Council members as well as those of County Council. The 2006 numbers were released later in the spring so here they are to keep you up to date. (These numbers include base salaries as well as any per diems, benefits, confrence fees, travel expenses ect. The department of Municipal Affiars requires all municipalities to record them the same way.)

W. Ayling $86,110E. McDonald $79,819
G. Blackmore $26,128K. Balderston $56,917
J. Croken $33,397L. Beaupre $62,417
C. Eckhardt $27,612J. O’Toole $77,602
B. Given $23,793 P. Jacobs $56,276
M. Heath $27,467D. Longson $66,578
D. Logan $23,804B. Smith $67,004
G. Mazer $25,353R. Harpe $80,608
H. Rice $25,656M. Eckstrom $55,423

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