Councillor Salaries on Agenda – again

At the June 20 Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting, Council compensation will once again be on the Agenda.  This has been a long discussion in Council with some strong on the idea that Councillors should not be in it for the money and others saying that considering hours worked, base salaries are less than the minimum wage.  Support for an increase is closely divided (more in Resources below). It’s certainly contentious so at the March meeting, a motion was passed to get a recommendation from a compensation expert.  That expert will present her report at the next CoW meeting on June 20.  Marianne Love bases her recommendation on a comparison with similar Councils and not on an evaluation of the work done and concludes that current compensation is appropriate – no increase is warranted.

But Council did not ask for a comparison – they asked for “a formal review of Council remuneration” – so will the recommendation based on “comparative statistics” be accepted?  There was no review of what would be fair pay for the work done.

A couple of factors highlighted by the review had not been previously discussed:

  1. Councillors get benefits that are paid for.  These include laptops, cell-phones, expenses including attendance at conferences and mileage and some group benefits (Group Insurance but not OMERS or an RRSP).
  2. There is a Cost of Living adjustment – this July 1 it will be 6.91%.

As a result, base salaries on July 1, 2022 will be:

Mayor: $45,412; Deputy Mayor: $31,082; Councillor: $25,963

Conversely, the “expert” made no mention of other money received that is directly possible because of their role as Councillor.  This includes significant amounts for the Mayor and smaller amounts for others (notably for the Police Service Board, $6,824/year for Aaron Burchat). Details are available on the Council Page on Cobourg Internet here

A healthy debate is expected although there is no agenda item for an action.

A decision may also affect who runs in the October election.  So far, only Mayor Henderson and Councillor Bureau have said they will run again.


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Pete M
13 June 2022 8:51 pm

Another consultant, another report that failed to meet the residents expectations. a report destined for the dusty shelves of inaction at Town Hall.

Would love to see how consultant billed- by the internet search or by the phone call from the at home office to do this comparative study

Pete M
Reply to  Pete M
13 June 2022 8:59 pm

Sorry not a phone call…e mail to each HR manager for their data, which was extracted and collated in an excel spreadsheet.

12 June 2022 8:09 pm

I wish we (the taxpayers of Cobourg) could advertise the job of Mayor on social media. The hiring board would not include any current office staff. The hiring board would be comprised of successful local business owners and residents.
We really need someone with proven business savvy, experience and success stories. Cobourg is a a jewel in Ontario with so much potential and it is being totally mis-managed.

Reply to  Kathleen
13 June 2022 12:33 am

Please quote the mismanagement, otherwise this is just a whine.

Reply to  ben
13 June 2022 7:46 am

The problems with the recent parking by-law for the area near Victoria Park is one issue that could have been handled better. How about the replacement of all the water meters with ones that have batteries and will require replacement again in 20 years (if the batteries last that long and the software to read them is still available which could mean earlier replacement). The harbour front is falling apart and will cost millions to repair. Is this just normal maintenance, a buyer beware situation (it was purchased from a higher level of government) or mismanagement? There has been a declared climate emergency. What has the town done to help the environment? Have they reduced the frequency of sweeping the streets (reduces fuel use) or put a stop to building sidewalks that are not needed (green space is better for the environment than concrete)? Have they implemented a policy to allow snow plow drivers the responsibility to know there is no snow to plow on a street and not waste energy, wear to equipment and the road from scrapping bare pavement? There are lots of ways things in Cobourg could be managed better.

Reply to  Kevin
13 June 2022 3:46 pm

Thank you Kevin. I’ll also add that the current Mayor has known of the degradation of Monk’s Cove for years – way back when he was a Councillor. Now, the cost of repair is Way beyond the original repair cost provided about 5 yrs. ago. All you have to do, Ben, is read JD’s blog and you can see for yourself that the words “Consultant” and “Deferral” are used too often.

Pete M
Reply to  ben
13 June 2022 9:18 pm

I would challenge you to share with the readers what you would say have been some if councils successes or highlights over the pass four yrs?

Reply to  Kathleen
13 June 2022 10:20 am

You hit the Nail on the Head Proven business back ground
we have had to many Educator and some union Types over the years as Mayor & Council
They are great at spending and requisitioning pencils and computers
but as far as Real Hands on Income earning capabilities and cost controls
I just don’t see it .

Mr Bigley
Reply to  Kathleen
16 June 2022 9:43 pm

l totally agree re advertising for the position of Mayor – possibly some of the clver retirees would step up and save us – someone with a vision is sorely needed –

Mr Bigley
Reply to  Kathleen
24 June 2022 2:49 pm

what a great idea -please lets try this – we need somone with a vision for this poor town – and we need he/her now

Cobourg taxpayer
12 June 2022 5:34 pm

If Marianne Love did not do a formal review of council remuneration, instead a comparison of similar councils, does that mean she doesn’t get paid? After all she didn’t do what she was hired to do.
On another note the cost of living adjustment of nearly 7% is excessive and there should be no further discussion on increasing base salaries for councillors.
When I see what the mayor makes, no wonder he’s running again. This is on top of his pension, he’s doing more then alright.

12 June 2022 9:11 am

Will more money for council lead to better decision making and accountability versus relying on consultants to do the heavy lifting?

Peter de Auer
12 June 2022 8:50 am

the real question to be answered is
” what do the taxpayers get for about $ 50,000 “?

It’s the same unanswered question about the value of volunteering vs paid.

Do the taxpayers get the best in either case?

The question of time spent is a red herring. It’s the outcomes that matter and often the ability to ” think “, whatever time that takes is the deciding factor.

An area resident

Peter de Auer

Old Sailor
Reply to  Peter de Auer
12 June 2022 10:15 am

Right on Peter.

I would prefer the most qualified individuals running for Council, receiving fair market remuneration. This is a $60 million dollar business.

12 June 2022 8:26 am

One line caught my attention: COLA of 6.91%! What other group gets a cost of living increase of this much? In my experience, there is usually a threshold for such allowances (eg. 2 or 3 percent) and any extra reimbursement is only based on any cost increase above that, not the entire increase.

Reply to  Terry
13 June 2022 10:38 am

Terry – The COLA increase should be a representation of the increase in the cost of living. 2-3% in 2022 is 1/2-1/3 of what inflation actually is. I suspect most progressive organizations tried to increase to the approximate level of inflation.

11 June 2022 6:58 pm

Each year the Town of Cobourg Finance Department prepares a report to Council, hence it is public, on the total remuneration and expenses for each Council member. It would be helpful to compare similar reports from the listed comparable municipalities in addition to comparison of base salary. For example, if a per diem or per meeting stipend is in addition to base salary, it could mean another $5000 a year or more for a member of Council who has a couple of committee meetings each week as part of their regular duties.

My edit to add above news link. I did a random check and found info on Collingwood Council vote for salaries for the next term. I compared with the consultant’s report. Clarification needed whether the listed numbers on the spread sheet are current figures or include any approved changes for the next term. For example, the Mayor for Collingwood would get base salary of $49,458 (next term) whereas the power point presentation has $46,419. The Councillor salary is also different with current salary $55 higher than that for next term.

Last edited 5 months ago by MiriamM
Ken Strauss
Reply to  MiriamM
11 June 2022 8:17 pm

I believe that Cobourg only paid $5000 for the consultant’s report. Perhaps accuracy is too much to expect for that cost.

Reply to  MiriamM
12 June 2022 3:50 pm

Good point Miriam.
Look at Port Hope. The Mayor will get $68,800 next year and other Council members got an 18% increase. The consultant’s report does not reflect these changes.

11 June 2022 6:45 pm

For 2021, Cobourg Council members received the following:
Mayor: Total compensation $80,473
Base $44,978, CPSB $ 7,281, Holdco $3,500, for a total Town expense of $55,759. In addition, the Mayor received $24345 for sitting on Northumberland’ council and $369 from the health board.
DM: $29,529
Councilors: Base $25,527, plus
CPSB $6,976 (A Burchat)
Conservation Authority: $275 (B Darling, N Beatty)

As a comparison, Port Hope recently approved an increase effective Dec 1, 2022 for Port Hope Council:
Mayor: $68,800 +18%
DM: $36,000 +18%
Councilors: $30,000 +27%

In his report JD notes “Councilors get benefits that are paid for. These include laptops, cell-phones, expenses including attendance at conferences and mileage and some group benefits (Group Insurance but not OMERS or an RRSP)”.

The group insurance is a valid compensation cost. The others (laptops, cell-phones, expenses including attendance at conferences and mileage) are not. These are valid Town costs of providing the “tools” necessary to do the job.

Comment continues: Part 2

Last edited 5 months ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
11 June 2022 6:46 pm

Council Compensation Part 2

In May 2018, Council heard the compensation ad-hoc committee’s recommendation for Council compensation. the recommendation was based mostly on a peer municipality comparison and recommended a very modest increase. Paul Pagnuelo presented an alternative based on work value.
Council rejected the recommendation based on peer comparison and opted for Pagnuelo’s instead.

As JD notes ” Marianne Love bases her recommendation on a comparison with similar Councils and not on an evaluation of the work done and concludes that current compensation is appropriate – no increase is warranted.”

This is simply a repeat of the 2018 event.

In keeping with Paul Pagnuelo’s 2018 recommendation, I suggest the following as appropriate for a $65M corporation.

Mayor: $69,000
No extra pay for CPSB, Holdco or any other Town board
This recognizes that the job is essentially a full time job and gives consideration to the nature of the work. Keep in mind that the CAO, Police Chief, Fire Chief and Holdco Pres over are all paid over $150K and some upwards of $200K plus significant benefits.

DM: $57,000. No extra pay for CPSB, Holdco or any other Town board.
This recognizes that the job is essentially a full time job and gives consideration to the nature of the work.

Councilors: $45,000. No extra pay for CPSB, Holdco or any other Town board.
This gives consideration to the nature of the work and recognizes that some (perhaps most) Councilors work 35 hours a week (or more).

Bill Prawecki
Reply to  Bryan
13 June 2022 4:59 pm

Wow …. $81m for the Cobourg Mayor …. what does the mayor do for $24m at the county council ….. what are his R&R ….. what value does he bring on behalf of Cobourg. same goes for the police board and Holdco ….. wow guaranteed income for 4 years …. Time for a change ….

Reply to  Bill Prawecki
13 June 2022 7:30 pm

Bill P
$81M for the mayor!!! How did you arrive at that? Imagine, $81 million… that’s what you wrote. In financial jargon M = million, K = thousand.

So let’s consider $81K. How did you arrive at that amount? Note that I specifically excluded compensation from Holdco and the CPSB…..nothing extra from either of them or any other “Town” board

The County’s compensation to County Council members is their affair, not the Town’s. I suggest you take the R&Rs and $24K up with the County.

I do agree with you on the question of what value do Cobourgers get from the posting to Holdco and the CPSB. As the reporting to Council on these two is minimal, we just don’t know.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bryan
Ken Strauss
11 June 2022 4:03 pm

It is not only Councillor Burchat who gets additional payments:

Mayor Henderson is paid over $24,000 in addition to his Mayor’s salary for attending county council meetings; when he serves as Warden he receives a significant additional payment. Further, Mayor Henderson receives over $11,000 more for attending Police Services Board and Holdco Board meetings. He is also paid for attending meetings of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit.

Councillor Darling receives payments for attending the Ganaraska Conservation Authority meetings.

The full list of payments is available at