MAPLETON – Mapleton’s mayor and council members will be getting significant pay increases to catch up with the average pay for local politicians in Wellington County.
Mayor Gregg Davison will earn $35,482 in 2024, up 32% from $26,939, while pay for four councillors will rise 16% to $21,800 from $18,772.
A staff report notes current remuneration for individual Mapleton council members and total council remuneration is the lowest among the seven municipalities that make up Wellington County.
Mapleton council remuneration was last reviewed by an ad hoc committee in early 2019, nearly five years ago.
A motion passed at the Nov. 14 council meeting approving the new pay rates also calls for the amounts to be adjusted annually by the previous calendar year’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), beginning in January of 2025.
Clerk Larry Wheeler explained the staff report used only Wellington County municipalities for comparison.
“An argument could be made to use North Perth or the Township of Woolwich since they are neighbours and probably closer to us than say, Erin. That was a decision we made,” said Wheeler.
He also noted the figures are “a moving target,” with area municipalities working on their budgets for next year.
“Since we did the report, the figures have already moved,” he stated.
The report shows Mapleton’s 2023 compensation level of $26,939 for the mayor and $18,772 for councillors is the lowest in the county, just under Wellington North, which paid its mayor $29,500 and councillors $19,000.
Compensation in Centre Wellington, the county’s largest municipality, was the highest, at $53,397 for the mayor and $28,072 for councillors.
According to the staff report, councillors in Erin are currently paid closest to the average amount, with the mayor earning $35,322 and councillors receiving $21,433.
Comparisons in the report include salary only and not extra amounts for conferences, committee meetings, per diems or benefits.
“There is a balance to be had between paying politicians fairly, respecting the disposition of local landowners/taxpayers, and attracting talented future candidates for municipal council elections,” the report points out.
Councillor Michael Martin disagreed with the need for the one-time pay bump.
“I am most comfortable leaving the grid where it is and just increasing it by CPI like we’ve done similarly in the past. You normally just bump it up whatever the staff wages increase for the year,” said Martin.
“I don’t think now’s the time … we’re trying to negotiate a budget at a reasonable levy increase, so I’m comfortable probably exactly where it is.”
Councillor Amanda Reid noted the staff report indicates council members in some other Wellington County municipalities receive benefits and are included in the OMERS pension plan.
“Are we looking to introduce those things in this report? Or are we just stating that those are included in other townships?” she asked.
“This report was meant to be … (a) simple budget report,” said Wheeler.
However, the clerk pointed out the Municipal Act requires councils to have “a serious look” at their municipality’s remuneration bylaw every four years.
“That would be a time to look at per diems, meeting reimbursements, that sort of thing, including OMERS and health benefits … We could do that early next year, if that was council’s desire,” he suggested.
A motion to accept the report and adjust council salaries as recommended for 2024, then annually by the previous calendar year’s CPI, was approved by council.
Davidson, Reid and councillor Marlene Ottens voted in favour and Martin was opposed. Councillor Martin Tamlyn was absent from the meeting.
The motion also directs that, in the future, in the calendar year immediately following a municipal election, a similar method be utilized to re-calculate elected officials’ remuneration.
The report notes that adopting a practice using an average of the Wellington member municipalities as a baseline for increases every four years saves the cost of hiring a consultant.
It also “ensures an ongoing, consistently fair and equitable outcome” by setting salaries “at arm’s length from elected officials,” the report states.