Council Proposes Salary Increase to Match Port Hope

When Council salaries were increased last year with effect at the start of this Council’s term, it was agreed that there would be a review “if and when the tax free allowance was removed”.  As expected, this did happen on January first.  Perhaps using this as a cue, the Cobourg Taxpayers Association in the person of Paul Pagnuelo, made a presentation to Council  last night suggesting that Councillors should be paid fairly so as to encourage talented individuals to run other than those independently wealthy and/or retired.  Paul pointed to the salary paid to Port Hope’s Mayor and said that Cobourg’s should be paid the same.  Paul also suggested that the Deputy Mayor should get 90% of this and Councillors should get 80%.

If Councillors work 35 hours a week, they are currently paid less than minimum wage.

Current salaries and CTA Proposal:

  Salary Prior to 2018 Current Salary Hourly rate % of Mayor’s CTA Proposal % of Mayor’s
Mayor $34,720 $40,440 $22.22   $48,100  
Deputy Mayor $21,851 $27,679 $15.21 68% $43,290 90%
Councillors $17,528 $23,120 $12.70 57% $38,480 80%
Paul Pagnuelo
Paul Pagnuelo

Paul gave a number of reasons for the change:

  • Need for greater accountability to address growing community expectations
  • Council salaries should not be a barrier to those seeking to serve in public office
  • Level of compensation should attract and retain competent, motivated and well qualified community minded citizens
  • The complexity, responsibilities, time commitments and accountabilities expected of each Council member
  • Remuneration must be transparent, fiscally responsible, and easily understood by the electorate

Paul estimated the cost of the increase in a full year to be $100,000.

When it came time for an “Action”, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin moved that (summarized):

The CTA report be received for information and since Council agreed to review councillor salaries if and when the tax free allowance was removed (it was, on Jan 1st 2019), that salaries be set as follows effective January 1st, 2020 and pending approval in the 2020 operating budget:

  Salary % of Mayor’s
Mayor $48,100 100%
Deputy Mayor $38,480 80%
Councillors $33,670 70%
  • Formal review to take place in the third year of every Council’s term of office
  • No change in Benefits
  • CPI Adjustments continue to be made
  • Police board remuneration changed – no longer calculated as a percentage of Councillors.  Instead be fixed at Board Chair $8,236 and board members  $6,589. Both subject to CPI adjustment.  Reviewed in third year of Council’s term.

When asked why not use the same numbers as the CTA proposal, Suzanne said she was not comfortable with that and in any case, these numbers could be reviewed in year three.  She commented that this is taxpayers’ money and it’s a big step. 

Councillors felt that the Public should have an input but since the change is subject to approval in the 2020 budget, most felt that this would provide adequate time for feedback.

The motion carried although it’s subject to confirmation at next week’s regular Council meeting.

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Stan B Gray

I do not begrudge paying politicians a fair salary for the effort they put in. I do however feel strongly that governing elected representatives should not vote themselves an increase but rather set an increase for the beginning of the next term of office. I believe this should hold true for all levels, Federal, Provincial and Municipal. The last term of Cobourg Council voted in a substantial increase that took effect at the beginning of the current council’s term. I don’t know how many hours a Councilor, or DM should work in a week to perform their duties effectively and proficiently, but I do not believe it should take 35 hours a week. This year 28 Committee of Whole meetings are scheduled this includes the Special Budget meetings, 18 Regular Council meetings at 4 hours for each per meeting that represents 184 hours, add 2 hours per meeting for prep totaling 92 hours/year. One Coordinator meeting per month one Committee meeting per month that’s an additional 72 hours per year. Let us add 6 hours per week for dealing with constituency phone calls and correspondence that’s 312 hours per year. Total hours based on scheduled activity and 6 hours per… Read more »

Miriam Mutton

Reading the comments on the two water front projects, how much the general public seems to support both, a main issue of concern regarding transparency and accountability seems to be lost. Looks to me, generally speaking, there is lack of clarity on requirements for a member of Council to declare either disclosure of interest and/or disclosure of pecuniary interest before advocating or even participating in discussion of certain topics. And,do they deserve a raise? It can be a demanding responsibility but they knew that when they signed up. The job can be consuming but Council is not staff, more like a board of directors. Although pay should be fair for the work, the Deputy Mayor seems to have a more realistic approach to addressing incremental change to pay.

Kyle

I noted that the fact that Police Services Board members get full town benefit package was not mentioned. Considering there are less than 12 scheduled regular meetings a year that is a pretty sweet deal.

Fact Checker

Kyle:
Beyond CPP, EI and Worker’s comp which are required by statute, what benefits are the CPSB members getting?

Dean

Kyle, you might want to check your facts. When you post statements that are incorrect you are misleading the readers,

Ken

First…I would have liked to have seen the Mayor and all the other councillors, stand up at that meeting, thank Mr. Pagnuelo and then ‘side’ with the Deputy Mayor and say that they too, were not comfortable with any salary change before Jan. 1, 2020.

Secondly, Mr. Pagnuelo stated that “salaries should not be a barrier to those seeking to serve….”. Does that mean that salaries should be an attraction to run for public office, even if you know ‘didely squat’ about politics and are already collecting an attractive ‘work pension’ along with the CPP and OAS pensions? No offence, to anyone, intended.

Thirdly, Mr. Pagnuelo talked about councillors working a 35 hour week? What if one week was 35 hours, then the next was 5 hours then the third week was 12 hours and the fourth week of the month was 17 hours? Without getting into the math….lets not try to equate ‘time spent’, to the minimum wage. Maybe all those on council should keep an up to date log/time sheet and be paid ‘hourly’ for their time? Just a thought?

P.S. John, what was the original motion? Guess I missed it?

Lyle

I have no problem with the preposed council salary increase but would like to see a clause in there that if they don’t keep their promises make during the election period they are terminated and a by election of the vacancy process is initiated.

Fact Checker

Kyle, a recall provision is an interesting suggestion.
Are there any specific promises that you feel have not been kept so far?

perplexed

I would be happy with any of the Council wage increases that seem to happen with every new Council if they could prove there worth by reducing some of our cost and Taxes . Its been nothing but steady increases
across the board in this Town for the last 10 or more yrs. .

When do the rest of us see such personal value, or cost of living increases in our pensions coming our way
Water rates , sewer rates ,Taxes , Hydro I would even like to have satellite TV with out the Commercials .

Old Sailor

I do not recall the amount of or the reason why reasonable tax free allowances were dropped? They benefit the recipient more than taxable salaries of the same amount. With respect to the proposed increases I suggest bumping the Mayor to $60,000 – around 25% higher than Deputy Mayor.