Progress with Remuneration Ad Hoc Committee

On March 1st, the first meeting was held of the Ad Hoc committee charged with deciding on remuneration for Councillors and Police Board members in the next term of Council.  As Deputy Mayor John Henderson explains in the video below, there is no methodology mandated as to how this should be done so John decided to create an Ad Hoc Advisory committee for the purpose.  The idea was first put forward in September 2017 when it was realized that after tax pay would actually decrease if nothing was done.  This is because of the recent elimination of a tax break for a third of the “salary” which was classified as expenses.  But then the start of work was delayed because there was concern that there were no women on the committee.  This was resolved when Dylis Robertson was named as an additional member.

Deputy Mayor - John Henderson
John Henderson

The plan is to have three more meetings with the last one on April 26 so that new candidates for October’s election will know what they would get paid. The first date to file as a Candidate is May 1st, 2018 and the last day is July 27, 2018 (more on the election here).

In making a decision, committee members were asked to consider:

  • Scope of Position/Responsibility of elected office;
  • Base Number of Hours required for Council Members as gathered from a Cobourg Municipal Council Survey;
  • Review Comparable municipalities;
  • Impact of 1/3 tax-free allowance;
  • Town-paid group Insurance and benefits;
  • Technology/ways of conducting business.

In their first meeting, committee members got complete information about current remuneration and details of many comparable municipalities.  See links below for full details but here are some highlights:

  • Councillors (including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor) get full benefits as are paid to non-union employees – this includes extended health, dental and life insurance but excludes the OMERS pension.  The value/cost is $5,700 per year.
  • Salaries in 2017 were
    • Mayor $34,720
    • Deputy Mayor $21,851
    • Councillor $17,528
  • Some expenses were reimbursed – the total for all councillors in 2017 was $35,775
  • Police Board Members receive 28.5% of the compensation for councillors
  • Police Board Chair receives  1.25 times the rate for Police Services Board Members;
  • Port Hope salaries in 2017 were
    • Mayor $48,400 – gets full benefits
    • Deputy mayor $26,000  – must pay 1/3rd of cost of benefits
    • Councillors $20,000 – must pay 1/3rd of cost of benefits
  • Cramahe salaries in 2017 were:
    • Mayor $52,295 – no benefits
    • Deputy Mayor $33,274 – no benefits
    • Councillors $28,505 – no benefits
  • There is a reduction of $250 per meeting for absence from Regular Council and Committee of the Whole meetings in excess of five meetings per year.

On 8 Feb 2018, York Bell-Smith interviewed John Henderson on Cogeco’s Municipal Matters:

It seems that Councillors are probably underpaid and John’s process seems a fair way to resolve it.


Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Deborah OConnor
17 March 2018 3:50 pm

There is a statement in this post by Mr. Draper that doesn’t sit well with this taxpayer. He says “But then the start of work was delayed because there was concern that there were no women on the committee”. Let me offer the following instead. “But then the start of work was delayed because there were concerns the composition of the committee didn’t reflect the diversity of the community”.

You see, it’s about diversity, which includes much more than just having women involved. When I sat on a committee at the provincial level tasked with setting up an advisory board in Ontario, our job involved far more than that, we had to consider age, ethnic/racial characteristics, geographic location, even occupation and income levels. This was almost thirty years ago and hardly a revolutionary idea even then.

Mr. Draper’s comments reflect his own (limited) understanding of the concept of diversity itself, and goes a long way to illustrate why we need more than older, affluent white males in charge of virtually everything in this town. But not to pile on John here, it’s the Town itself that needs to up its game.

C’mon Cobourg, let’s get up to speed in this new world that recognizes all kinds of people have skills to offer that benefit the entire town. Everybody loses when only one sector makes all the important decisions.

John Draper
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
17 March 2018 4:09 pm

It was very clear from the discussion by Councillors that the only diversity they were focused on was the lack of women. It was “fixed” when one woman applied and was accepted.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  John Draper
17 March 2018 5:12 pm

And that is the problem. That’s why the Town needs to up its game. You’re just reflecting their failure to do so. Had they had a more enlightened attitude towards citizen participation their discussion would have been of higher quality and your post would have reflected that instead. I’m not blaming you for this, John. You did a fine job as always.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
17 March 2018 10:39 pm

Have you considered that other than for sex the Remuneration Committee reasonably reflects the diversity of Cobourg? For example, according to the most recent census 18250 of 18730 (98%) of the respondents speak English as their primary language. Only 815 (~4%) are members of a visible minority. With a small committee it is ridiculous to attempt to represent tiny portions of the population. Also, why do you feel that ethnicity, religion, language or other attributes affects a decision regarding the appropriate pay for a Councillor?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
20 March 2018 11:00 am

18250 of 18730 (98%) of the respondents speak English as their primary language. Only 815 (~4%) are members of a visible minority.”

In 2015, there were 54 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. Many country subdivisions have declared English an official language at the local or regional level.

Check how many “visible minority” aka non-white-skinned, speak English as their primary language.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
20 March 2018 1:09 pm

Fascinating! But how does your comment relate to the fact that, other for sex and age, the committee accurately reflects the diversity of Cobourg?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
20 March 2018 5:09 pm

i disgree with your contention

Reply to  John Draper
18 March 2018 8:10 pm

Hardly “fixed” I would never dare to call Dylis a “token” but anything other than 50% gender parity demonstrates tokenism!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
20 March 2018 11:16 am

Ideologically formulated and coercive. Perhaps some elections can result in a 65% female and 35% male and it could be an outstandingly meritorious council. Another election could reverse that and we could still have an outstandingly meritorious council. The 50% rule is more likely to ensure mediocrity because humans are reduced to and chosen based on their genital configuration, or the pigment of their skin, or, or, or… Ideas are what matters most. The 50% ‘rule’ is already obsolete, because it excludes trans humans. Not everyone is male or female, the 50% of this or that. Time to rethink that outdated 50-50 simplification.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
20 March 2018 1:11 pm

Wow! For once I completely agree with you!

17 March 2018 9:28 am

Like most people who work in Cobourg and area, give the councillors and others a cost-of-living increase. That’s about all the rest of us and pensioners get. What’s good for us – is good for them.

Reply to  cornbread
17 March 2018 2:45 pm

Any talk of a raise is premature until you get a handle on the workload and that is hard; the lazy Cllrs will tell you the job is part time and the people who can’t stay out of Town Hall will say it is definitely full time.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  ben
17 March 2018 2:48 pm

I would like to see remuneration at a level where municipal public service is not just a hobby for pensioners.