With an election due in October, Cobourg Council recently went through a long process to review Council Salaries but finally decided to reject the Ad Hoc Committee recommendations and approved significant increases. Now the County is recommending increases too. They have not appointed a citizen committee but instead Staff are making recommendations at the County Council meeting on July 18 and the increases will be substantial. Since the county councillors are in fact the Mayors of each of the constituent municipalities, the total salary for Cobourg’s Mayor will be significantly higher in 2019 than in 2018. Other provisions of the proposed new bylaw include an annual CPI adjustment, an increase in allowed expenses for conferences and an implementation of the Federal law eliminating the tax-free status of one-third of their salary.
As well as a salary, county councillors currently also get payment for attending County Department meetings and other meetings. This is $100 per meeting under 3.5 hours and $200 for meetings over 3.5 hours. The new bylaw will change this to a flat $100. Expenses for Conventions are now limited to $2,500 but this will be increased to $4,000. Mileage is also reimbursed at 0.55c/km
The last review of salaries was in 2015 – the new bylaw would mandate reviews every 4 years
The methodology used to decide on the increase was to look at comparable municipalities, namely: Lanark County, United Counties of Prescott & Russell, County of Lennox & Addington, and Renfrew County. The first thing to note is that they also pay a “per diem” ranging from $150 to $210 which I assume is comparable to Northumberland County’s $100-$200 per meeting. Then the 60th percentile is calculated and equals $18,347 for a Councillor and $45,477 for the Warden with $180 per meeting.
Another factor is the removal of the tax exemption for one-third of their salary – for a typical case, the net effect of the 2015 decision, CPI adjustments, tax exemption and attendance at meetings is shown in this table:
|Current Annual Net Remuneration (1/3 tax exempt)||2019 Annual Net Remuneration (100% taxable & if salaries not changed)|
|Warden (attendance at Council & 9 meetings/month)||$40,168.64||$35,872.32|
|Councillor (attendance at Council & 3 meetings/month)||$10,650.48||$ 9,726.48|
The recommendation by Staff is that the Councillors’ salaries be increased to $18,347 (from $9,678) and the Warden’s to $45,477 (from $37,706) and that meeting remuneration be changed to a flat rate of $100 per meeting. By my calculation, that’s a 90% increase for Councillors and 21% for the Warden.
Given that Cobourg’s Mayor will get a salary of $40,440 in 2019, his total expected compensation (before tax) will be $40,440 (Cobourg Mayor) + $18,347 (County Councillor) + $3,600 (county meetings) = $62,387. If he were Warden, it would increase to $96,717. That’s still nowhere near the salary of the CAO ($179K) but would certainly be a full-time job. (Note that there are also other payments for other jobs of the Mayor – another $12K in 2016).
- Staff Report
- Surprise Approval of Larger Council Salary Increase – 22 May 2018
- Compromise on Council Salaries – 15 May 2018
- Council Remuneration Report – 30 April 2018
Update – July 18, 4:12 p.m.
At their meeting this morning, County Council approved the recommendations discussed above. The changes will be effective “at the beginning of the new term of Council in December, 2018”.