With the publication of the 2015 Sunshine List, and reports of the cost of local governments (Uxbridge council, for example, apparently cost taxpayers over $300,000 last year), it might be worth thinking about value of money, not just salaries.
Our local Councillors represent the public, which can mean phone calls late at night for awkward problems. They must maintain the financial integrity of the Township, which is a grave responsibility.
They must ensure policies and procedures are in place to accountably implement council decisions. They are paid, in the case of Brock and Scugog, less than $20,000 per year, of which a third is intended to be used in the performance of their duties, not as personal compensation. They have no desk, no office. A Regional council member, who is elected to two councils and thus receives two salaries, can make $90,000 and has similar duties at two levels of government. Mayors will, in addition, represent their municipality to the Province. A Regional Chief Administrative Officer, who is not elected but does have an office and an assistant, can make more than the total cost of Uxbridge council last year.
When taxpayers see large public salaries, we easily default to outrage, but local council surely merits the least criticism. Those Councillors who strengthen our community, strive for accountability, advocate for our concerns, answer our phone calls, and work long and irregular hours in our service deserve our sincere appreciation.
As citizens, our duty is to be engaged in our local government, and this can be achieved by attending council meetings to better understand the issues, and by voting for the people we feel are best qualified and motivated to represent us. If they fail us, let them know, and vote accordingly. If they serve us well, then the next time you’re at a council meeting, shake their hand and say thanks.
Ray and Sharon Smith