SCUGOG: The Citizens Committee for Council Remuneration presented their final report to Scugog Council on Monday, Oct. 24th, recommending salary raises for the Regional and Ward Councillors, as well as the Mayor.
The presentation of the report was made by Vice-Chair David LeRoy and committee member Ray Smith. The report recommended the Mayor’s salary be bumped up from $31,884 to $40,600, and the Ward Councillors’ and Regional Councillor’s salary be $25,400.
Mr. LeRoy explained why the Councillors should have the same salary.
“The rationale was that the Regional Councillor is compensated for regional duties by the region and compensation for the Scugog Township duties ought to be the same as for a Ward Councillor, given that the Regional Councillor is something akin to a Councillor at large,” he said.
The total salary increases would represent a 0.4 per cent levy increase. However, to minimize the levy hit, the committee recommended the changes be phased in. The report suggested council start with a 2.26 per cent increase to salaries in 2017. This would include the declined 1 per cent increase in 2015 and the 2017 cost of living allowance. This would add over $717 to the Mayor’s salary, almost $439 to the Ward Councillors’ salaries and over $483 to the Regional Councillor’s salary. The remaining salary adjustments would be phased in over the next four years, starting in 2018. The report included a total of 22 recommendations.
Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido questioned if the numbers in the report represented the present value of the job, or what the value would be in 2018.
“Those numbers, we would say, are the value of the job now. The implementation plan we suggested might be adjusted if Council chooses,” Mr. Smith responded.
Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett asked why the numbers are lower than what Uxbridge Councillors made in 2013.
Mr. Smith told Councillor Kett it is mostly because Uxbridge Council does not have the same policy as Scugog, about providing one third of Council remuneration tax free.
Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back stated her concern about the bigger implementations starting in 2018.
“One could argue the residents have had a deal for quite some time, probably decades, of Council not making nearly what they should, based on their comparators in other municipalities,” she said. “It does seem odd to me that this Council was brave enough to address the underpaid remuneration of Council and past Council, and that it would be for a future Council.”
However, with the budget process already underway, Council approved a motion, by Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew, to refer the recommendations regarding salary and compensation to that process.
Councillor Guido also asked that the Director of Finance bring back a report to Council, showing what kind of impact there would be if Council went with the 2.26 per cent increase in 2017, as well as if they started one of the phase ins that year, or if they went with a larger increase in 2017.
Some of the recommendations Council endorsed included; Council keeping the one third tax free policy, that Mayor and Councillor salaries be reviewed in January in the fourth year of each Council term, that a Councillor job description be prepared, and that the current benefits package given to members of Council be continued with no changes.