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Municipal 2018
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Centre Wellington council compensation review recommendations defeated

by Mike Robinson

ELORA - It looks like Centre Wellington council’s wages won’t be changing for the next term.

After much debate, the hiring of a consultant, establishing a salary compensation review committee, more debate and several lost resolutions, it looks like council is doing nothing to update council’s salaries for the next term of council.

On June 25, council again reviewed a report from earlier this year regarding possible salaries for council members.

The recommendation before council was that a base pay be established using the 2018 market adjusted rates for the position of mayor at $38,009 and for the position of councillor to $20,892 and the increase to the mayor’s base salary be implemented over a two-year period ($4,466 annually).

Changes would have been effective Dec. 1 - the start of the new council term.

The last compensation review for Centre Wellington council was in 2005.

The item had followed managing director of corporate services Dan Wilson regarding the issuance of  T2200 (declaration of conditions of employment) to members of council as a means to offset the elimination of the tax-free allowance.

Wilson said while it can be done, few municipalities do issue the forms to council members.

It will be up to each individual member of council to comply with rules and regulations when completing personal income tax returns annually.

However, he also noted that part of the increased wage recommended later in the meeting was also considered to be a compensation for the loss of the one-third tax free allowance for council remuneration.

Councillor Kirk McElwain said in talking to his accountant, it might not be worth the effort.

Councillor Stephen Kitras agreed.

This would require more work and more bookkeeping, he said.

The one-third tax exempt allowance currently provided to elected officials, is to be removed as of January 1, 2019 as per Bill C-44 - Budget Bill Implementation Act.

Wilson noted there will be costs associated with generating the T2200 forms as they would be generated separately.

The recommendation was defeated.

A motion to include an annual health care spending account of $1,200 for elected officials was introduced and defeated after lengthy discussion.

Originally the idea was that the health care benefit might be considered an enticement for prospective council members.

Mayor Kelly Linton noted the resolution regarding council compensation was divided among a dozen clauses - “it really is council’s decision.”

Councillor Dean Workman said “I had no idea what I was going to get paid when I put my hat in the ring.”

“The amount of time required is way, way beyond what you would think, especially if you want to review every document to come to council to make informed decisions and have meaningful discussion.”

Workman said that instead of reviewing what other municipalities are doing, “a review should be on fair compensation for the work required. It is antiquated to suggest regarding councillors - to keep them poor, keep them honest.”

Linton clarified part of the review was to compare Centre Wellington to similar municipalities in terms of population and growth.

That was the focus given by council to the review committee, Linton said.

He added that the citizen committee attempted to come up with features to make the councillor position more attractive.

CAO Andy Goldie noted, “there has never been a comparison of staff versus council salaries.”

Workman contended it didn’t make sense to compare to other municipalities and that an hourly compensation should be considered.

He said wages are the value councillors bring to the table.

“I didn’t come here for the money, I came because I wanted to make a difference to the community,” Workman said.

“But at the same time, this is actually costing me business and time.”

He said part-time employees in any other field are paid a reasonable amount for their time.

Linton said he was not interested in anything further than what was proposed.

Kitras wanted to go through this review line-by-line and vote on each aspect individually.

He contended that councillors have full-time jobs in addition to council salaries, which generally places them in a higher tax bracket.

The salary proposal does not take that into account, he said.

“It’s not fair at all - we are at a loss,” Kitras said.

He considered this as penalizing prospective council members.

Linton said it is council’s decision whether it wants a higher salary.

“This is what was recommended by the citizen’s committee - now it is in our hands,” he said

Wilson clarified the removal of the one-third tax free allowance is based only on the amount earned as a council members.

Councillor Don Fisher said everyone’s situation is different.

But he agreed there is potential for councillors to be in a worse financial situation simply by the included councillor salary moving them up to a higher category of income taxation bracket.

Kitras said one of the mandates of the review was fair compensation and to attract people to the role.

He stated that during the last municipal election three representatives to Centre Wellington’s council were acclaimed.

He again asked this be discussed line-by-line.

Workman believed because of the workload, the mayor should earn $80,000 to $90,000 per year.

“I’m just new to the game and I know the pressure I’m feeling,” he said.

He considered the pressure on the mayor is astronomical in comparison.

Mayor Linton stated, “the reason council chose its method of review ... I see the current recommendation and I do not think we should be going through this line-by-line.”

Goldie said if council chooses not to move forward with the recommendation - it is nearing the end of council’s term when it can make any changes to compensation.

Fisher suggested council move forward and a new council can make changes if they believe it is needed.

Decision

At the end of the meeting Linton confirmed that as things stand, there will be no changes to council compensation for the next term of council.

July 13, 2018

 
 

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