Enough is enough
Summer may be a slow time for the media, but regardless of the season, I think it’s big news when municipal councillors – or any politicians for that matter – vote themselves a raise.
It’s even more newsworthy when such a decision comes in the middle of an election campaign, a fact that seemed lost on all members of Centre Wellington council, except maybe one.
Add the fact that Centre Wellington’s new remuneration for the mayor and council are higher than was recommended just two months ago by a citizens committee, and it wasn’t a tough decision to include the story on our front page.
Over the past decade I have grown increasingly dumbfounded and frustrated by the ever-increasing salaries paid to municipal councillors and mayors.
What used to be viewed as a civic duty, has evolved into well paying jobs permeated by a “get as much as you can while the gettin’ is good” mentality.
Of course, in Centre Wellington, councillors will argue they’re not approving a raise for themselves, but for the next council – but everyone knows that’s BS (all of them are seeking reelection).
Others may invoke the age-old adage that to attract good people to the position, it has to pay well. I argue the opposite: that the pay has become so good (for a part-time gig) it could have the unintended result of attracting those whose main goal is simply collecting a cheque – and generous benefits.
Well, Centre Wellington has done it. Councillors voted earlier this week to significantly raise the mayor and councillor salaries, beginning in January. And why not?
Sure, it’s taxpayer money and the jump from $28,606 to $45,000 for the mayor’s salary is quite extreme, but there hasn’t been a major increase in some time.
The real question is why they delayed salary increases in June. The topic was up for discussion and council defeated it – so they looked good to taxpayers for two months until they backtracked and gave themselves the raises anyway.
But think about it. In a regular job-type situation salaries are generally increased on an annual basis to match inflation.
Why should councillors be any different?
Yes, it’s public money, and council has to be responsible with how it’s spent, but doesn’t it make sense to pay a little bit more and hopefully attract candidates who are invested and have ideas to make the town better?
But wait, council defeated the original motion for increased compensation June 25 and the nomination period for the upcoming municipal election closed on July 27.
If council had accepted the salary increases in June, I wonder how the nominations might have differed. Could there have been more candidates vying for positions?
Regardless, the next councillors are in for a big payday – how many will have been part of the decision?