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Coun. Dan Boyd and Coun. Roslyn Woodcock

Whopping raises prove divisive for council

A huge jump in remuneration is closer to becoming a reality for the next group of city councillors who will be elected in October.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 13, 2018

A huge jump in remuneration is closer to becoming a reality for the next group of city councillors who will be elected in October.

After a lengthy debate Monday night, council – in a 4-3 vote – passed first and second readings of the remuneration bylaw for the next term of council.

In it, the mayor’s annual pay would rise from $87,942 to $101,100 while councillor’s pay would bound from $20,496 to $36,036.

Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu, Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland voted against the bylaw.

The large increases come in light of impending changes to the federal tax regime where a portion of remuneration currently exempt from income tax will be taxed beginning in 2019.

With the tax change, the raise will simply mean the next mayor’s take home pay will remain about the same.

For councillors’ take home pay to remain the same, the honourarium would only have to rise to $24,315.

However, the increase to $36,036 came out of a report showing many other cities of similar size in western Canada pay their part-time councillors an average of 36 per cent of the mayor’s full-time salary.

“For incoming councillors, comparative data from cities with roughly similar populations in western Canada indicates that a rationale exists to set councillors’ salaries at 36 per cent of the mayor’s salary,” it was highlighted in a report to council.

“This calculation would set the ratio of councillors’ salaries to the mayor’s at both the average and median of that ratio in comparable communities.”

Boyd was quick to put forward a motion Monday that would have accounted for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) changes as well as annual changes to the Consumer Price Index (which are also factored into the bylaw).

Boyd proposed that councillors’ pay be set at the $24,315 rather than the $36,000-plus.

He pointed out he’s not in support of the proposed operating budget due to the more than four per cent, on average, tax increase to non-residential property owners.

The city is also working on union negotiations this year, and it wasn’t that long ago that increases for management personnel were limited to around just one per cent.

It’s difficult to ask for such a steep hike to council’s honouraria at a time when the city is trying to keep costs down, Boyd told his colleagues.

As Hartland concurred: “This would not be the appropriate time for (moving to) 36 per cent (of the mayor’s salary).”

Hartland later countered arguments made by Coun. Rob Fendrick that if the bar is set too low for pay, it can be a disincentive to those looking at running for office.

Hartland also disagreed with comments from Coun. Roslyn Woodcock on the need to attract candidates from many walks of life in the city.

She noted it can be very difficult for someone who is not retired or not already financially well-off to run for council.

The city has fallen behind the eight-ball when it comes to councillors’ remuneration, Fendrick said, and there’s good reason to increase it to be in line with 36 per cent of the mayor’s salary.

Hartland pointed out though that the 2015 election – where three candidates ran for mayor and 22 vied for the six councillor seats – drew a “crop of council candidates from all walks of life.

“I don’t believe remuneration is a barrier to run,” he said.

Coun. Betty Irwin agreed with Woodcock.

Irwin noted the increase might encourage those who would not otherwise run to get their names on the ballot and bring a new perspective to council chambers.

Some have noted that in the past, some councillors have opted not to take the honourarium.

Irwin suggested that that just isn’t an option for others – like herself.

She noted she does not make a lot from the Canada Pension Plan and old age security. Without the honourarium in place, she said, she likely could not afford to sit on council.

Irwin was also quick to note that the role of a councillor also involves a lot of time.

“It’s not just a 20-hour-a-week job,” Irwin said. She highlighted the work that goes into not only attending meetings, but reading documents, responding to residents’ concerns and more.

Curteanu said she sees the need to increase the councillors’ pay, but does not believe it was clear exactly how much it should rise.

“I think we need to do a little better,” she said, voting against Boyd’s proposed amendment.

Hartland and Boyd were the only members to vote in favour of his proposal.

With that, Curteanu then brought forward her own amendment that would have seen councillors’ remuneration in the next term rise to be in line with the CRA changes. It also provided for a further 2.5 per cent based on the average amount Canadian salaries are anticipated to rise in 2018.

Curteanu suggested that during the next term of council, the city could then do a more in-depth project, looking at pay for council members in other jurisdictions.

The comparison provided to the city focused on communities with similar population sizes. However, it did not take into account the responsibilities of each municipality.

As an example, she noted some cities offer policing, others don’t.

Some, like Whitehorse and Yellowknife, are capital cities for their territories while others are not, and so on. It’s not as simple as comparing apples to apples, she commented.

“We’re comparing fruit baskets to fruit baskets,” Curteanu said.

To look at a fair remuneration, she suggested, the city should take more time to do an in-depth analysis of information from other communities.

Mayor Dan Curtis defended the large increase as a reflection of the work of council members. He argued that the needed analysis has been done in the comparison provided to city council.

“I feel a thorough analysis has been done,” Curtis said.

Other council members also reiterated the points they had made earlier in defending the large hike.

Woodcock pointed out that council is a different experience to when she does other “semi-volunteer” work for which she’s paid honouraria.

“Nobody s---s on me for that work,” she said, going on to argue again that council needs more of a cross-section of people to serve.

Curteanu, Hartland and Boyd were the only members to vote in favour of Curteanu’s motion, with the proposal then defeated.

Before going back to the main motion for the steep hike, Woodcock said she’d be willing to consider the honourarium for councillors increasing to 30 per cent of the mayor’s salary, though there was no support expressed for that by anyone else on council.

Members then finally voted on whether to move forward with the proposal to put the salary at 36 per cent of the mayor’s pay and move the salaries up in light of the CRA changes, with a vote of 4-3 in favour of that, and first and second readings passing.

Third reading will come forward later this month.

Comments (13)

Up 3 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Feb 18, 2018 at 11:04 am

Receive a raise to offset the rising costs of living and taxes? Sure, I'll take two please. But being a regular citizen Tax-payer First Class, I am not eligible for such benefits. The Federal Liberals also gave themselves a raise a while back, so I am wondering if this is a party perk Mr. Silver is wondering how to announce sometime soon?

Up 3 Down 0

Calf Wirter on Feb 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm

I used to be a senior policy business advisor for COW but got smoked because of my brazen stolid ideals to promote more for less, much, much less. I now see why my ham got cooked.

Up 3 Down 0

PedroFerrero on Feb 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm

We citizens just need to make sure that Curtis gets some serious competition in any future election ( unlike last time when he only had to beat Old Wilf and Laundryman ) .

Up 5 Down 0

Charlie on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:21 am

Sorry Bill, I think we're going to see a house cleaning. You guys won't listen, so thank you for your service and goodbye.

Up 5 Down 0

Josey Wales on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Good acting councillors ...the abstract optics of a concern for fiscal responsibility.
There are serious, serious problems in our hall, the absolute LEAST of which is how much more to pay the engineers of the civic stupidity.
Serious problems require serious solutions, our town is a mess...
Striving for perfection.....OMFG that is such complete and utter bull.
“As long as we got ours” should be our CoW letterhead and vehicle decals

Up 11 Down 0

SC on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:16 am

Must be nice to receive a 50% raise. Takes me a lifetime to see that kind of pay bump. These jobs are not full-time and are not meant to be sole source of income. As for our mayor, maybe they should look at why he considers his job full-time. I find it hard to believe he can put in a full week of paper pushing when there are full-time staff to do so. What does Dan do all day???

Up 9 Down 0

well well.. on Feb 14, 2018 at 9:22 am

I don't totally disagree with the Councilors getting raises but I do the Mayor--he's probably just trying to catch up to his Government buddies.

When I was looking in to being a city councilor, it did state that you end up working about 30 hours a week. it's not just showing up to a weekly meeting--there is reading all of the info to prepare and then weekday meetings as well.

And NOT that I'm defending it at all either. It's my tax payer money going to these people who don't seem to listen to anyone and all have their own agendas. These guys will never get in again, but good for the next crew. Hopefully they'll do a better job representing the people and not themselves.

Up 5 Down 2

Woodcutter on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Sampson can stand up and disagree, but I bet he runs next election and Dan will also. Why not with a nice side income.

Up 11 Down 0

North_of_60 on Feb 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm

"Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu, Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland voted against the bylaw." ... and will get my vote in the next election.

Rob Fendrick believes "if the bar is set too low for pay, it can be a disincentive to those looking at running for office." In Fendrick's case I can understand how a councilor's pay is a lot less than his former job as an extremely well paid city employee.
Regardless, I'm not voting for councilors who are mostly interested in the job for the money. It's a part-time job and if they can't find other sources of income then perhaps they're only popular and not actually qualified for the responsibilities of City Councilors.

Up 1 Down 8

Politico on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Remember, good people cost money.

Up 8 Down 2

Alan Boomer on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Ok, please do not run again mayor, its too painful for us.
Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland please run for mayor or put your names in the hat for council.

Betty, we know you need the money, please run for councillor again and have a latte before each council meeting and try to fire on all cylinders. You can sleep in on Tuesdays.
Councillor Woodcock, please do not run again, you need more income it's so apparent.

Up 8 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:23 pm

A few council members get that money doesn't grow on trees. Vote out the rest. Too much money to pay for a rubber stamp mayor and council.

Up 10 Down 0

Bob Ablanalp on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm


"just a long as I get mine"
I know who I won't be voting for next election.

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