KAWARTHA: City councillors decided what they’re worth, monetarily speaking, last week, at the November 28th regular council meeting. They chose to receive annually, about $10,000 more than what they’re currently receiving.
This decision arose after the city announced the slashing of its 16 wards into eight.
Many of the councillors seemed to be on board with the ward adjustment, which won’t take place until 2019, but weren’t to keen, over not being compensated for the extra work.
There were three options on the table: Number one would pretty much keep everything status quo, with the current base salary of $26,632 and a $3,600 car allowance; number two would include a $5,000 pay increase in the base salary and include the car allowance, meaning councillors would be paid $35,995; and finally, number three would include a hefty pay increase of $10,000.
Regarding option one, Councillor Gord Miller said he wasn’t impressed with the proposal.
“It’s borderline insulting,” he said. “I’m speaking against it! The thing about politics is, people tend to think it’s a volunteer job, and it isn’t. We have to be realistic.”
Councillor Stephen Strangway echoed Councillor Miller, and said he thought more information couldn’t hurt.
“It’s an important decision, because it’s what you’re expecting to get paid from your job,” he said. “I hope we don’t make a decision, and it not reflect what we want. I think we need more time.”
Mayor Andy Letham was none-to-pleased with such comments, as, according to him, city chief administrative officer, Ron Taylor and team did an exceptional job gathering details.
However, not all of the councillors were interested in receiving a raise, or making the job seem more appealing to future council-hopefuls.
“We’re not concerned about getting better candidates, we’re concerned about putting more cash in our pockets, so at least admit that, when you make your decision,” said Councillor Pat Dunn sarcastically.
After such a comment, the debate started to get a little heated.
Councillor Mary Ann Martin shot back, warning Councillor Dunn not to make assumptions.
“I take insult to what you just said, about us sitting around here and trying to put money in our pockets, I find that very insulting!”
On the other hand, Councillor Emmett Yeo openly admitted to wanting more money for the changes happening next term.
“I found it spoken by a man who is on a fixed pension and can't afford to do this for what they pay, I’m not ashamed to stand up and say ‘yes’. If I’m going to do this job next term, given the new responsibilities, then I’m going to need more money, because I’m going to be giving up my business, because it will take that to do this job.”
The added responsibilities Yeo referred to, include: more committee meetings, ceremonies, grand openings, an increase in constituents, and a much larger ward territory.
Councillors ended up opting for the third option, with a 10 – 7 vote. The new remuneration won’t take effect until 2019, and will actually be cheaper for residents despite the increase, which amounts to about $1.50 per resident.