Proposed remuneration changes would mean yearly increases to councillor salaries

Councillors here received a long-awaited report on councillor remuneration from CAO/town manager Kathryn Ironmonger on Aug. 25.

An amended report will be brought forward at the Sept. 9 council meeting.

An initial report was presented to council at the June 17 regular meeting, at which point council deferred it to the July 22 meeting.

Council members were directed to forward their comments to the CAO as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for the committee to review any comments.

In July, council deferred the second report to a special meeting on Aug. 25, and were encouraged to forward their comments to the CAO as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for the committee to review any further comments.

Three members of the public were involved in the consultation process.

The committee made the following recommendation: to retain the one-third tax free allowance, which is deemed to be expenses incidental to the discharge of elected roles.

Recommended rates for council starting in 2015 are $26,000 for the mayor and $15,600 for councillors. The committee also recommends the mayor’s salary be increased by $500 each year until 2018 and that councillor salaries increase $300 each year for the same period.

The report notes there is a wide range of policies on the payment of per diem (per meeting, per day etc.); however, it is being recommended that a “salary-based” remuneration be established.

That remuneration is deemed to recognize and include compensation for attendance at: regular council meetings, special meetings of council, public meetings and other meetings as required in addition to ceremonial events, community meetings, non-statutory public meetings, project open houses, etc.

The report was modified to confirm allowing members to attend two conferences per year, but there is no limit to the number of council members attending a particular conference/convention. Any events attended outside of Ontario  require prior council approval. Coverage of costs for a councillor’s spouse to attend conferences was removed from the policy.

Ironmonger noted that section had been part of the policy “forever” but added, “I can’t recall anyone ever asking the town to pay for a spouse attending.”

One increase within the policy is the meal allowance, which has gone up from $60 to $100.

Council’s current choice is to end the practice of paying for mileage within the municipality on council business.

Mileage would still be paid to attend required meetings outside of the town.

The policy has also retained allowances for council to have a cellphone/Blackberry or laptop computer. Though councillors generally have not taken advantage of this in the past, it would provide options for the new council.

Once a remuneration bylaw is approved, the 2014 election candidates will be provided with a copy.

Ironmonger anticipates council will render a decision on a finalized remuneration bylaw at its next regularly scheduled council meeting.