Council Agrees on Compensation

After a lot of debate, at their Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on Monday June 20, Council accepted the HR consultant’s report that said their pay was comparable to that paid in similar municipalities. She recommended no increase. However, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin was concerned that two councillors (Aaron Burchat and Mayor John Henderson) were getting significant additional pay ($6,824 in 2021) because they served on the Police Board whereas other councillors served on committees for no additional pay. She noted that this extra pay was not mandated by the Province. She therefore moved to stop this practice. Her motion set the salaries at the current level including an adjustment for CPI. Her motion (see below) also specified that CPI adjustments continue and that future Councils review remuneration in their third year.

Apart from the removal of extra Police Board compensation, Suzanne’s motion implemented the Consultant’s recommendation.  Her motion passed – it was not a recorded vote and the screen to see the votes was small – but I saw Aaron Burchat vote against and I think Nicole Beatty was also against (or abstained). Emily Chorley was absent. Suzanne Séguin, Mayor Henderson, Brian Darling and Adam Bureau were in favour. It will need ratification at next week’s regular Council meeting.

Suzanne’s motion

THAT Council receive the presentation from Marianne Love, Compensation Specialist for information purposes; and

FURTHER THAT Council implement the conclusions of the Consultant’s review of Cobourg Municipal Council Remuneration with one addition:

That effective November 15, 2022 to be equitable to all Council members who sit on many Cobourg committees and boards with no additional remuneration, Council members sitting on the Cobourg Police Services Board shall no longer receive additional remuneration; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Bylaw No. 037-2018 which amended the Council Remuneration By-Law for the 2018-2022 Council Term be amended to reflect the following:

THAT Council set the base pay for members of Council effective July 1, 2022 as follows:

  • That the position of Mayor be set a $45,412 plus benefits;
  • That the position of Deputy Mayor be set at $31,082 plus benefits; and
  • That the position of Councillor be set at $25,963 plus benefits.

FURTHER THAT compensation adjustments for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Members of Council continue to be maintained with annual CPI adjustments as a yearly increase to Council Remuneration effective July 1st each year as stated in the current provision of the Council Remuneration Bylaw; and a formal review of Council remuneration takes place in the third year of the next term of Council by a method of Council’s choosing to take effect for the next incoming Council Term.

With no significant increase and a reduction for two, I wonder what affect that will have on who runs for Council.  I’d guess that some potential councillors were waiting for this decision before making a decision.

Update 28 June

When this issue came up for ratification at the Regular Council meeting on 27 June, Councillor Emily Chorley, who had been absent from the CoW meeting, expressed dismay and disappointment that the consultant had recommended no change and that she had based it on comparisons instead of workload and responsibilities.  Emily said that it was not a living wage and not even minimum wage.  However the motion passed with Emily and Nicole Beatty voting against.


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Cobourg taxpayer
22 June 2022 10:11 pm

Has everyone forgotten the cost of living adjustment of 7% for council salaries reported in an earlier blog? There should be no further discussion of increased pay who else anywhere has had that pay increase in the last 2 years? Oh wait I should say in the private sector, federal government has grown by 11% under Trudeau’s watch…..

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
22 June 2022 10:26 pm

Isn’t that the same COLA as for all town staff?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 June 2022 6:45 am

in the unionized workers contract, there is no COLA clause.
So the union employees do NOT receive a 7% increase like the councillors

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Leweez
23 June 2022 8:32 am

That is great news Leweez! Think of the tax increase required to fund a COLA for everyone considering the recently announced 7.7% year-over-year CPI increase.

I didn’t carefully read what the consultant wrote: “Recommend adjusting base pay for Elected Officials annually by the amount used to adjust the Management/non-union Salary Grid.” so we only have to fund an increase for our highest paid town employees.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 June 2022 9:07 am

No town staff who are not unionized have their pay increases looked at once the union has finalized their negotiations. Similar to the military and the federal government. When federal unions are done negotiating they then give the military a pay increase based off of those collective agreements.

Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
23 June 2022 9:09 am

Council has did not have any increase last year, the consultant assumed that the by-law meant an increase was automatic each year after the CPI is done. It is not.

22 June 2022 2:17 pm

There are several committees for which there is pay that is not part of the elected council’s control (sphere of influence, jurisdiction of others) and a number of these are outside committees. If the reporting protocol is clear, i.e. the representative reporting back to their respective municipal Council, could the workload be shared? Each member of Council assigned to one of the outside committees. For example, the current chair of the public Board of Health is a councillor in their respective municipality. Another person is a deputy mayor. There are a number of mayors on the board also. In addition, I recall when the mayor was not one of the members of the Cobourg Police Services Board. It was two other members of town council. In my view, the most interested and best qualified person from the elected members should serve on these committees.

22 June 2022 6:43 am

This motion appears to be a bit selective as it only talks about money from the CPSB. How about all the other remunerations that other Cllrs receive – GRCA, LUSI, the County and don’t forget the Committee of Adjustment the only Town committee that gets paid.

Equity my Fanny, sour grapes more like it!

Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 7:40 am

I agree, sounds like next term may be her last so she is just upset she will never get to take advantage of being a member of the police services board. I’m sure the councillor who was only making 31K with the CPSB and his councillor pay isn’t too happy with the Deputy right now who makes substantially more than him.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  concerned
22 June 2022 7:51 am

Concerned, insofar as I know Cobourg Council has no control over GRCA and County compensation. LUSI is a separate entity (note the “I” for “Incorporated”) for which Cobourg Council doesn’t control compensation. Is your understanding different?

Yes, the Councilor who lost his CPSB annual $7000 is probably upset. Note that he voted against cutting his personal pay. Is that a conflict of interest? And, yes, the DM makes more but I’ve never seen her with eyes shut and napping during a meeting.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 June 2022 8:10 am

The point here Ken is the amount of “extra money” Cllrs/committee members get. Lets have a system where one gets paid for what they do and not allow them to double-dip. As you know the compensation the Mayor get is almost equal to his Mayoral wages.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 10:10 am

Ben, I certainly agree that they should be paid for what they do but I am unclear what you mean by “extra money” that some get. Mayor Henderson and Clr Burchat got about $7000 each for their work on the CPSB. Mayor Henderson got about $3500 for his work on the Holdco Board. Certainly not bad pay for a dozen (?) meetings of a few hours! However, the only other additional pay was $275 for Ganaraska Conservation meetings which is probably considerably less than minimum wage.

Based on John’s report, Henderson got about $45K as Mayor plus about $10,500 for other town work. His $25,000 compensation for serving as our representative on County Council is paid by the county and not determined by Cobourg Council.

What do you mean by:

As you know the compensation the Mayor get is almost equal to his Mayoral wages.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 June 2022 11:47 am

“extra money” would be any other monies above his Mayoral pay – County, LUSI, Public health Board, CPSB. That would be about $38K a bit less than $45K. And that would be As you know the compensation the Mayor get is almost equal to his Mayoral wages.”
I was probably a bit high but not that far off.
Either way ‘double-dipping’ should not be happening if we are paying the Mayor to be a full-time Mayor!

Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 12:58 pm

There is nothing in Ontario law to prevent a person from holding more than one job (moon lighting). A company can limit this by prohibiting it in their employment contract. Such a prohibition comes at a cost to the company (higher pay).
As for the County, provincial law provides that the County Council is made up of the mayors (or designate) of the county municipalities.

There is concern of conflict of interest. It is quite possible that the County could engage in activities contrary to Cobourg’s interests. The Mayor’s primary responsibility is to his Town.

As to the mayor’s position being full time, I’m not aware that it is defined as such, unlike Port Hope.
The compensation consultant list the mayor’s position as part time.
Note that Port Hope’s full time mayor is paid significantly more ($68,800) than Cobourg’s
In 2017, Cramahe (1/3 the size of Cobourg) paid its mayor $52,295. If COLA applies this could now be about $58K

Finally, in your 2015(?) remarks to the ad-hoc remuneration committee, you suggested that FT councilors should be paid $45K plus benefits (total about $50K). With 7 years of COLA at 2.5% $45K increases to $53,500

Seems fair for a FT councilor. The DM and M would paid more, say $60K and $69K

Reply to  ben
23 June 2022 9:17 am

That is not double dipping. The town isn’t paying him more than once. I’m sure you know what double-dipping is but this isn’t it.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 June 2022 1:56 pm

 His $25,000 compensation for serving as our representative on County Council is paid by the county and not determined by Cobourg Council…..

Who came up with this idea that all the Mayors of Northumberland are defacto representatives that receive this chunk of change? I think residents of Northumberland should be able to vote for their representatives. Maybe they think that certain Council Members or retired citizens would be better suited for the job.

My -2 cents worth.

Reply to  Kathleen
22 June 2022 2:54 pm

Totally agree. Elected representation on County Council would be better…just like regional councils. But the province didn’t set it up that way.
Perhaps contact Piccini

Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 10:26 am

I agree that the motion is selective. It affects only the CPSB (Burchat $6,824, Henderson $6,824) which is fully part of the Town’s corporate structure.
I would have also included Holdco, as it is a Town subsidiary. Henderson was paid $3,500 as a member of the Holdco board

The Committee of Adjustment has no Council members, therefore paid none.
Darling ($440) and Beatty ($275) are on the GRCA which, as KS notes below, is not a Town board.

Similarly for LUSI, no Council members on its board, and it is a separate corporation.

The County is also a separate corporation. Henderson was paid $24,675 in 2021 as a County Council member.

Henderson sits on the HKPR District Health board and receives no compensation.

Reply to  Bryan
22 June 2022 11:50 am

“The Committee of Adjustment has no Council members, therefore paid none.”
Point here Bryan what does this committee do that others don’t and why do they and only they get paid to attend

Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 12:08 pm

Good question:
However, this thread is about Council compensation. The question of the adjustment committee and perhaps others is a separate but equally important issue.

Reply to  ben
22 June 2022 2:41 pm

The Committee of Adjustment was described to me as a quasi-judicial decision making body. They make decisions that Council cannot overturn like recommendations from a Council advisory committee. I may have missed your main point, though, Ben. And, advisory committee members did get paid an honorarium some years ago and then a committee member suggested to the town that advisory committees do not need to be paid … so that was the end of that! At the time I was a young person starting out in the work world and a person who was an active volunteer in the community. I found the removal of the honorarium disappointing. It was not much but it was a welcome acknowledgment of my participation and contribution as a ‘volunteer’. Participating on committees was also an opportunity to learn from senior members of the community on how to get things done.

21 June 2022 2:57 pm

In a month where the major indexes have had their worst month since 2008 and where local homeowners have seen the value of their property give back $100,000+; the erosion of wealth(at least on paper) has been extreme.
Whether fair, just or excessive, the timing of politicians giving themselves a raise with a CPI rider is always worth questioning.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dunkirk
21 June 2022 3:24 pm

Dunkirk, note that there was no raise approved and the same CPI adjustment applies to all other town staff even when they are working from home. With the elimination of the special payment for Police Services Board membership and the CPI increase, the total compensation for our Councilors and Mayor is essentially unchanged between 2022 and 2023.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ken Strauss
22 June 2022 8:39 am

Thanks, I feel better now…

That said, there must be a special place in the hereafter reserved for those who decide their own compensation. Who can forget Imelda Marcos paying herself in 7,000 pairs of designer shoes; Lord Black of Crossharbour’s ‘Special Dividend’ or the great Liberace playing concerts exclusively for his dogs and sending his Agent the bill!…

PS–isn’t the whole ‘Committee’ system being shut down?….presumably, because a Consultant told us, it doesn’t work.

Reply to  Dunkirk
23 June 2022 8:08 am

And because it was a system the majority of municipalities got rid of a very long time ago, just another example of how far behind this town is. The financial systems they use are dinosaurs, no wonder it takes so long to get quarterly updates from them. No HR system with performance management, no program for employees to book and track vacation time, I can go on but these are few of the big items.