At the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, the Cobourg Taxpayers Association (CTA) made a strong case for much higher compensation for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors than was recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee. As was reported two weeks ago (see links below), the Ad Hoc committee formed to look at remuneration recommended quite small increases (3.4 to 9.3%) based on the practice at other comparable municipalities but Paul Pagnuelo of the CTA suggested that to be fair for the work done, much higher increases were appropriate. The idea is that a higher salary would attract a higher caliber of candidate. In addition, Paul suggested that there should be compensation for the loss of the tax exemption for 1/3rd of the remuneration.
Paul’s suggestion was supported by Debra McCarthy but Forrest Rowden said that candidates campaigning door-to-door would find it hard to explain the big jump. Brian Darling and Suzanne Séguin said that in fact money was not the reason why Councillors took on the job so a big increase was not justified.
CTA Case for higher remuneration
In summary, Paul made the following points:
- Taxpayers must realize that you get what you pay for.
- The Mayor’s base salary should be increased to $48,100 in line with the current salary of Port Hope’s Mayor – a 38% increase compared to 9.3% recommended;
- The Deputy Mayor’s salary should be increased to $43,290 – a 98% increase compared to 3.8% recommended
- The salary of Councillors should be increased to $38,480 – a 220% increase compared to 3.4% recommended
- This recommendation adjusts the salary spread between the positions to better reflect the responsibilities of each role; the Deputy Mayor’s salary should be set at 90% that of the Mayor’s, and a Councillor’s salary at 80% that of the Mayor’s.
- All members of Council should be provided with office space at Victoria Hall and the tools they need to do their jobs.
Paul pointed to senior staff salaries which average $144,387 yet “Council members who have policy and oversight responsibilities average only $20,374”. He also said that based on 25 hours per week, they get paid less than the minimum wage.
See the links below for the CTA Press Release.
There was a lot of discussion by Councillors on the subject with Gil and others seemingly reluctant to go beyond the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee. Debra McCarthy wanted to have the Ad Hoc committee review the CTA recommendations but with its work completed, it has now disbanded.
Brian Darling was concerned that if the removal of the tax exemption for 1/3 of salary is implemented, then there would be a significant impact on income (given that in his case he also has a pension income). He successfully moved an amendment that would look again at remuneration if in fact the tax exemption was removed. Gil said that net salaries would not in fact be affected by this because they could then claim their expenses. However, there would be a lot of onerous paperwork for both councillors and Town Staff as many expenses would be claimed that are currently part of the automatic exemption. Because of this extra work, he felt that lobbying to stop the implementation would be successful.
In his presentation, Paul said there are 3 options:
- Delay a Decision (paralysis by more analysis)
- Status Quo (minor tweaks)
- Do what is fair, right and just in the eyes of ordinary people (pay council what it’s worth)
Finally, Debra moved that the matter be moved out a year and that the CTA recommendations be considered then (effectively option 1). Brian Darling said that “people then have a chance to look at it”. The motion approving the Ad Hoc Committee recommendations complete with the amendments about the tax issue and reconsidering in a year was then passed. It will need final confirmation at the regular Council meeting on May 21.
Links and Notes
The CTA will be discussing the issue further at an Open House on May 23 at Trinity United Church from 2-4 p.m.