Salaries frozen for Innisfil mayor and councillors
By Chris Simon Innisfil Scope August 4 2010
A pay raise will not be awaiting the next mayor and councillors, when they take office later this year.
Town council approved a recommendation from the Council Remuneration Committee last week, which calls for annual councillor and mayor compensation to remain the same when the new term begins Dec. 1. However, the deputy mayor’s pay will increase by nearly $2,000 per year, while all council members will be given wireless communication devices from the town.
“On this council, there are people who do not have devices that accept e-mail,” said councillor Rod Boynton. “Not all council is available at all times. (It’s important) we have a level playing field, and a council that is informed at all times.”
The recommendation stems from a committee investigation, which looked at population, geographical proximity, and urban and rural statistics between several local municipalities. According to the report, Innisfil councillors and the mayor receive relatively equal wages to their counterparts in other similar municipalities. The mayor earns a base salary of $22,193, and $10,930 for expenses each year, about $276 less than local counterparts.
Councillors receive $12,328 in base salary, and $6,072 for expenses, about $612 less than their peers.
“This takes a difficult and messy job away from staff and (council),” said councillor Lynn Dollin. “It’s a difficult position to be in, but does help the community at large understand this wasn’t taken lightly.”
But the deputy mayor’s compensation, which totals $15,292 in base salary and $7,532 in expenses, falls about $1,967 below average, said committee chair Heather MacDonald.
“The committee does not recommend changing the councillor remuneration, as the difference is negligible and not as large as it is with as the deputy mayor,” she said. “Current compensation is adequate and comparable. The committee recommends increasing compensation for the deputy mayor … which will narrow the gap between the mayor and deputy mayor, recognize the greater responsibility, and address underpayment.
“The committee (also) recommends providing the support to make council members more accessible
through wireless communication).”
Councillors should receive similar annual pay increases provided to nonunion municipal employees, on a percentage basis, beginning next year. Council members will also continue to be paid $75 and $100 per diems, for attendance at appointed committee meetings, and participation in approved workshops and conferences, respectively, said MacDonald.
“After reviewing the data collected, and being cognizant of the current economic climate, the committee thought it prudent and responsible to freeze the compensation amounts, with a few exceptions,” she said. “This committee carefully reviewed the council compensation structure … and makes its recommendation for the 2010-2014 term.”
However, some councillors say the committee is being discriminatory over benefits coverage. The committee recommended maintaining current benefits coverage for council members, until the age of 65.
“At age 65, coverage for most of council is removed,” said councillor Bill Pring. “I’m slightly over 65, and at age 75, it’s going to be cancelled altogether. I don’t have the privilege of paying my premiums through the town (until then). I feel it’s age discrimination. What are we doing to protect our more mature people?”
But the benefits recommendation is legal, says town clerk Jason Reynar.
“It is an unfortunate situation that the Ontario government has left all municipalities in,” he said.
“At this time, there is no legal requirements to provide benefits to councillors over 65.”