Councillor Salaries back on the Agenda

In early 2018, Council thought that their remuneration (salaries and benefits) should be reviewed so they established an Ad Hoc Committee to do that.  This committee reported on April 30, 2018 but recommended little change.  In a delegation, the Cobourg Taxpayers Association made a strong case that there should be significant increases and some councillors agreed (see table below) – but not all.  The issue was discussed by Council several times and along the way, Council asked that there be a review of salaries in the third year of their term – that is, in 2021.  Staff are now belatedly bringing this to Council at the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on March 7 and asking for direction.  In the debates, some Councillors were not consistent in their voting.  See the second table below.

Base Salaries

  Mayor Deputy Mayor Councillor
2017 $34,720 $21,851 $17,528
Ad Hoc Committee recommendation $37,940 $22,679 $18,128
Actual late 2018 to now $40,440 $27,679 $23,120
Proposed $48,100 $38,480 (80% of Mayor’s) $33,670 (70% of Mayor’s)

Note that all salaries are adjusted annually with a CPI percentage.  There is more information on total compensation (including expenses) for 2019 thru 2021 at Cobourg Internet here.

Although it was not spelled out, there seems to be a consensus that any increase should be effective for a new Council term – that would be starting 2023.

Voting

  May 2019 – 1st vote May 2019 – 2nd vote June 2020 budget vote
For Increase Suzanne Séguin
Emily Chorley
Adam Bureau
Suzanne Séguin
Nicole Beatty
Emily Chorley
Adam Bureau
Nicole Beatty
Emily Chorley
Adam Bureau
Against John Henderson
Brian Darling
Nicole Beatty
Aaron Burchat
John Henderson
Brian Darling
Aaron Burchat
John Henderson
Suzanne Séguin
Brian Darling
Aaron Burchat

The report to Council by Director of Legislative Services Brent Larmer includes a longer version of the above history.

For more details on council discussion (minutes etc), see Brent’s memo and attachments at the Town’s web page here (Agenda item 8.3).

Brent asks for direction from Council which would no doubt be included in discussions for the 2023 budget.

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Pete M
1 March 2022 8:06 pm

I ve heard people discuss the pay for talent in this discussion.
But at no point have I heard people say what their expectations of the mayor and council are.
I ll put it out there…oversight for sound management of Town assets. So a proper asset management plan.
Ensuring good roads.
Proper sewer / waste water management. A system that is resilient to major climate events.
Fiscally responsible…but not penny wise pound foolish thinking.
Less consultants and less study, less kick it down the road and more of Get er Done attitude.

Dunkirk
Reply to  Pete M
2 March 2022 1:07 pm

Pete M–I love your post. It’s everything we want and probably more than we could ever expect. The ‘context’ I feel compelled to add is that we are broke– both literally and figuratively.
We need a ‘turn-around’ next election.
Inflation of Jan and Feb have basically made our December Budget unrealistic…already!
October is our only chance at holding those responsible –accountable.

Dunkirk
1 March 2022 1:59 pm

I think many of us recall when our Province was run by the late Premier Bill Davis and that none of the MPP’s except the Premier were compensated. It was true public service with various professionals committing a day a week to the legislative duties & constituency affairs. Was our education better? Was our Health care system better?….hhhmm…

Sadly–all levels of government have grown 10 fold and now Public Sector unions dominate organized labour and in our small town 8 of the top 10 employers are government and we have at least 4 jurisdictional levels of representation…(not healthy…) …Whether many elected officials will admit to it, politics has become their ‘career’….

The simple reason that private sector salaries and bonus incentives is that, although they are not always fair, they work. The best ideas get funded, and the most talented people progress to follow opportunities of financial reward, self-actualization & service…..As such, the private sector –very rarely hires from the public sector, but, the Public sector regularly takes cast-offs from industry…
(Ask yourself why that is…would Elon Musk hire our PM?…)

The local policies we need are not around compensation. That ship has sailed….We need absolute Term Limits( 1 or 2) and Age limits (65)–just like the private sector or most professional firms or private sector players who the market says have stayed beyond their ‘best before’ date.

Frenchy
Reply to  Dunkirk
1 March 2022 6:13 pm

Nailed it Dunkirk.

Bryan, if you were really looking for an answer to your question: “If “pay for talent” doesn’t work for government, does it work in the private sector? If yes, why?”, Dunkirk just gave it to you better than I could have worded it.

Frenchy
Reply to  Dunkirk
1 March 2022 6:30 pm

I’m guessing 3 civil servants just gave you a thumbs down. 😏

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 March 2022 8:49 am

Am I understanding your post correctly; “…that none of the MPP’s except the Premier were compensated.” Is that to say they received no pay for their MPP positions? If so, I have no recollection of non-paid MPPs in Ontario. Do you have a reference?

Dunkirk
Reply to  Gerald Childs
2 March 2022 12:50 pm

Gerald–In 1972, nationally acclaimed political journalist, Dalton Camp was awarded a Commission(The Camp Commission) that first recommended and recognized MPP’s as ‘full-time employees’…that led to the creation of the ‘Office of the Legislative Assembly’ and salaries 1975(?) ..(Auditor Gen/Ombudsman etc)…a good reference to that work is on the early pages of the link below.
https://cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2009/Hokan.pdf

ben
Reply to  Dunkirk
2 March 2022 9:43 pm

“I think many of us recall when our Province was run by the late Premier Bill Davis and that none of the MPP’s except the Premier were compensated.”

Dunkirk you obviously did not read the report you posted. On page 2 it states that in the 60s – Bill Davies’s tenure MPPs were paid $3,000 a year.

Dunkirk
Reply to  ben
3 March 2022 7:40 am

Ben–the $3,000 paid to each MPP pre-1975 was an ‘Honorarium’, paid once a year; not a salary or payment for services.

ben
Reply to  Dunkirk
3 March 2022 8:24 am

Pedantic, splitting hairs, picking picking fly-poop out of pepper. Who said “A buck is a buck!”?

Last edited 6 months ago by ben
MiriamM
Reply to  Dunkirk
3 March 2022 8:29 am

With inflation since 1975 that $3,000 honorarium would be about $7,500 today. (The accounting experts can correct me if my numbers are off. I did not adjust for value in today’s dollars.) And, it is my understanding that MPP members at that time were also supported by their constituency. And it may be possible that income reporting requirements have changed over time.

Have a look at the various committee and board member ‘pay’ amounts in this week’s report to Council. It could be argued those are honorariums also and not salary or payment for services. However, money is money.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
3 March 2022 8:37 am

Miriam, according to the calculator at https://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/ $3000 in 1975 is equivalent to $15,793 today. And $3000 in 1965 (I believe this was the original statement) is equivalent to $26,259 today.

MiriamM
1 March 2022 8:34 am

Fair pay for fair work. It would be informative to see job descriptions and accounts of time spent in their respective roles, such as time sheets with task notes. A job done well can be a significant commitment not only of the member but also of their supportive partner and family. Not that long ago, before this term of Council, Council was debating pay increase for members of Council and two members in opposition based their view that such a role was primarily ‘to give back to the community’ and compensation should not be expected. In fact, they publicly voiced their position, that if there was a pay increase decided by Council they would as individuals take the difference from their pay and donate it to charity. I always wondered if those members did in fact follow through on that promise!

ben
28 February 2022 5:35 pm

With months before the next election this proposal is DOA. No one on Council will be brave enough to stick their heads above the parapet on this – go on prove me wrong members of Council.

It should be noted that I also made a presentation in favour of higher salaries during the committee process.

Last edited 6 months ago by ben
Bryan
28 February 2022 4:26 pm

John D:
 
The late Paul Pagnuelo developed and presented the 2019 Council compensation model which was accepted by Council rather than the Ad Hoc Committee’s tepid recommendation. Paul’s proposal was then turned down by Council. Therefore, no increase. Clr Beatty had second thoughts and asked for the issue to be reconsidered. Clr McCarthy proposed a scaled down version of Paul P’s proposal with a 3rd year review. This passed and is the basis of Council’s current compensation.
Paul’s main theme was that members of Council should be paid according to the value of the job and that higher pay would (may) attract better qualified candidates. Higher pay would also help open opportunities for other demographics: non-retired, non-senior, non-???

Note that in the May 2019 votes, three of the Council members who voted against the proposal had a day job or a substantial public sector pension.
 
Paul’s 2019 proposal was:
Mayor:                  $48,100                Current: $42,879
Deputy Mayor:        38,408 (80% of Mayor)       28,663
Councillor:              33,670 (70% of Mayor)       23,943
Annual CPI indexing would apply.
Some Council members get additional pay as members of some boards, notably Cobourg Police Services (Henderson & Burchat: $6,824 each) and Holdco (Henderson $3,500).
 
I suggest the following:
Mayor:        $50,000
DM:              42,500
Councilor:    37,500
 
These salaries would be “all in” with no additional compensation for having a seat on the CPSB or Holdco. Both of these are Town owned entities and representation on these boards by Council members should be part of the “duty”
Council members who are members of “outside” boards such as Northumberland County or Ganaraska Conservation Authority would be paid as is currently the practice.
 
As a side issue, I suggest that the Mayor should not be automatically appointed to any board (CPSB, Holdco, County) It should go the Council member(s) with the best skills/experience for the position.

Pete M
28 February 2022 3:34 pm

Councilors’ Salaries!
John this is like throwing a piece of red meat to starving Lions, for the followers and commentators on this Blog.

Have at it boys and girls!

My apologies to the vegans who follow and comment.

Frenchy
Reply to  Pete M
28 February 2022 4:07 pm

As long as I don’t hear the old argument about higher salaries brings better talent. That hasn’t worked at any level of government or for politicos from dog catcher to prime minister.

Bryan
Reply to  Frenchy
28 February 2022 4:52 pm

Frenchy:

If “pay for talent” doesn’t work for government, does it work in the private sector? If yes, why?

sam
Reply to  Bryan
1 March 2022 1:20 pm

It doesn’t work as well as you think.

ben
Reply to  Frenchy
28 February 2022 5:39 pm

The argument for higher salaries was never about attracting better talent, it was all about letting people apply knowing that they would not be financially penalised for holding the office.

Last edited 6 months ago by ben
Bryan
Reply to  ben
28 February 2022 6:15 pm

Ben,

How is a Councilor being paid minimum wage or so, (some/many would argue less) not being financially penalized?

Pagnuelo’s main premise for raising council salaries was the possibility that talented, skilled people might not be deterred by the low compensation.
Otherwise, the only ones who can afford to be councilors are retired seniors with good pensions/investments….mostly old retired white guys.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bryan
Informed
Reply to  Bryan
28 February 2022 8:09 pm

So much for that premise. There are 3 women on council and will likely be more to come.

Bryan
Reply to  Informed
28 February 2022 9:18 pm

Informed:
If they can afford to, that would be great. That’s why the compensation increase is important. It creates opportunities for other demographics.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Bryan
28 February 2022 11:27 pm

Or the well groomed wives of the “old retired white guys”. What I’m waiting to see are working class men and women on Council who actually need the salary. Best way I can think of to ensure a variety of goals, ideas and perspectives. More of our citizens should benefit from that type of representation.

Frenchy
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
1 March 2022 3:23 am

You once accused our friend Liz Taylor of having a giant chip on her shoulder. It sounds like you might have one too.

ben
Reply to  Frenchy
1 March 2022 8:08 am

let’s not get personal now Frenchy, just shows who you really are!

Pete M
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
1 March 2022 7:19 am

Sorry Deborah there isnt enough of a voting block to elect that type of candidate.
Remember our demographic…retired white men/women, who elect people that protect their interest

Doug
Reply to  Pete M
1 March 2022 10:46 am

We did have a Labour Rep John ? on council for several terms, 15 yrs or so ago. More ordinary working people would spread representation to more groups within the community.

ben
Reply to  Doug
1 March 2022 12:59 pm

It should be noted that when I was on Council I was also a member of Labour as was John Lindsey who joined me a couple of terms later.

Informed
Reply to  ben
1 March 2022 8:24 pm

John lindsey was great to have on council

Pete M
Reply to  Doug
1 March 2022 1:36 pm

Who is an ordinary working person in Cobourg?

Our major employers are County of Northumberland, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Kawartha Pineridge District School Board, Town of Cobourg. I’m seeing a government theme here?

  • Kraft/General Foods closed in 2008 taking 400 jobs, a company that used to employ 1000-1200 people in Cobourg in its heyday.
  • Ontario Government closed Brookside in 2021 taking 100+ jobs.

Our major companies are Belden, Weetabix, Horizon Plastics, Cobourg Pallet, each with 300 employees or less.

I suspect that the employees of these companies probably don’t have the time give the current economy and lack of available workers.

Our major economic driver is retirees and and the services and supports for them.

As such they dictate our political reality- a seniors democracy.

Bryan
Reply to  Pete M
1 March 2022 1:22 pm

Pete M.
Thanks for pointing out a very important factor in the election of municipal council. Analysis of the Cobourg 2018 election data showed that seniors (65+) and near senior (40-65) vote in significantly greater numbers than other age demographics

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
1 March 2022 12:11 pm

I’m curious, Deborah. Which current Councillor(s) do you consider to be a well groomed wife of an old retired white guy? In any case, what is your problem with electing a well groomed Councillor? What is your problem with old retired white guys?

Ken
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 March 2022 9:38 am

yah!…..quit pickin’ on the mayor!

Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 March 2022 11:49 am

We could start with group think and a gratuitous lack of diversity which is not representative of our community.

Informed
Reply to  Rob
2 March 2022 6:57 pm

Are there barriers preventing a deverse candidate from running for council? I dont believe there is.

ben
Reply to  Bryan
1 March 2022 8:11 am

Both my proposal and Paul’s suggested a wage above minimum, but realistic enough to be adopted by progressive Councillors. But as John pointed out most of the Councillors voting have substantial Public Pensions or a day job. A pretty good second job’s pay for them.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
1 March 2022 12:47 pm

Ben,

Out of interest and for clarity and completeness, what was your Council compensation proposal and when did you present it to Council?
Is a copy available online?

Also, for the record, John D did not “…. point out most of the Councilors voting have substantial Public Pensions or a day job….”)
I suggested that in my comment to John D (Feb 28, 4:26pm “… three of the Council members who voted against the proposal had a day job or a substantial public sector pension..”) and in my reply to you (Feb 28, 6:15pm)

ben
Reply to  Bryan
1 March 2022 1:02 pm

That’s an interesting question Bryan, I presented to the committee in committee session and went home. When the committee report was presented it was not attached. I questioned why, given no reason but was told that it was presented to Council at the CoW. Still don’t know why it never appeared but can guess!

In 1990-97 the pay for a councillor was $7500, pay for a deputy reeve (I was one) was $7800

However during the time I was on Council I did manage to get a policy change to be allowed to claim for lost wages for days taken off for Council business – to attend County Council as the Deputy Reeve. The justification being was that I was elected not to make money but not to lose money!

Last edited 6 months ago by ben