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Councillors decide not to donate raises to Scugog township

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

SCUGOG: Scugog councillors have decided not to send their 2021 cost of living wage increase back to the municipality, opposing a motion intended to lessen the tax impact on the community. At a meeting on Monday, November 23rd, Regional Councillor Wilma Wotten made a motion to have “council members support the donation of their 2021 cost of living wage increase back to the municipality to reduce the 2021 tax impact for Scugog Township.” The motion noted how the COVID-19 pandemic “continues to negatively impact economic realities for residents, businesses, non-profit organizations and charities.” Councillor Wotten explained why she decided to go this route instead of recommending a wage freeze. “I feel firmly we would be moving backwards if we were to do a full freeze. Originally I thought it would be good to donate it to a charity of choice, but I think it is better to donate it back to the township, so it can go into our revenue,” she said, adding this money would go towards all taxpayers in Scugog, rather than one charity. Ward 4 Councillor Deborah Kiezebrink supported Councillor Wotten’s motion. “I really appreciate Councillor Wotten’s heart and her thoughts. These have been extremely difficult and painful times for so many people. It’s hard because the services the township has to provide cost more. We’re all affected by this,” she said. But, the majority of councillors rejected the motion. “I’m one of those people who [doesn’t] have a problem donating back, but I’d like to donate back to the community by donating the money to the food bank. These are lean times for all of us, and especially for food banks and especially here in Scugog,” Ward 5 Councillor Lance Brown said. Ward 3 Councillor Angus Ross said this motion does not do enough to help the community. “I support council giving back to the community 100 per cent, but I don’t support this motion because I don’t believe it actually gives back to the community. I think it is a gesture, and that’s fine and I think [there are] times for gestures, how be it though I don’t think this is time for one,” he said. Scugog finance staff estimated the collective wage increase to be about $4,128. Councillor Wotten stated it would be improper for one councillor to decide what one charity these combined funds should be donated to. “How do we choose which one is more important?” she said. Councillor Wotten’s motion failed four to two. Councillors were instead encouraged to give back to charities of their choice. “I know this year I have stepped up my contributions to different organizations, especially in town, and I would just encourage everyone to do the same,” Mayor Bobbie Drew said.

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