Clearview council votes in pay increase

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In their final act, Clearview council has approved a pay increase for councillors, beginning in January. 

A special meeting was called Tuesday afternoon to consider council remuneration, the week before the new council is sworn in on Dec. 3.

Four councillors-elect were invited to sit at the council table (but not given a vote) for the discussion, and a subsequent in-camera session regarding “labour relations or employee negotiations.”

They heard from consultant Marianne Love who said Clearview has fallen short in two key areas – salary and benefits – and that the pay gap has only widened since her last review in 2012. 

Based on salary alone, Love found the mayor’s pay is 12.7 per cent below the 60th percentile, whereas the deputy mayor’s pay is 7.7 per cent below and council members’ pay is 3.6 per cent below. 

Also taken into consideration was the removal of a 1/3 tax-free treatment for mayors and councillors as set out in the 2017 federal budget, and that the municipality doesn’t offer any health benefits to council members. 

Outgoing mayor Christopher Vanderkruys spoke in support of increasing salaries, specifically for the position of mayor and deputy mayor, saying they should make more than councillors. 

“Going into the higher percentile is more reality for those two positions,” he said. “It’s easy for an outgoing mayor to say, and I’m not trying to give Doug a bonus or anything, but I do think it’s warranted.” 

“It’s a full-time job with part-time pay,” said mayor-elect Doug Measures, adding that council reps can be stopped anywhere, anytime to talk about an issue. 

“I think we are doing the right thing. It’s respectable to go with the 60th percentile,” said Measures. He was insistent that in the next term of council the review is done earlier in the final year of the term.

 To bring Clearview up to the 60th percentile of comparators used in her analysis; offset the removal of 1/3 tax-free; and provide a Health Care Spending Account of $1,250 per year per council member with premiums paid by the municipality, Love recommended the mayor be paid $36,778 per year, the deputy mayor be paid $27,986 and councillors be paid $21,130. The changes will cost the taxpayer an extra $36,579, approximately. Council approved the almost 17 per cent increase. 

Outgoing councillor Kevin Elwood voiced concern about the impact on the taxpayer and the public perception. 

“The public… yikes! It’s quite a bit all at once,” he said. “The effect on the taxpayer is significant in the overall budget… That accumulative effect is what concerns me.”

Many councillors spoke in favour of the increase, some for the reason that the municipality not fall further behind. 

Outgoing councillor Shawn Davidson pointed out that when council approved an increase in 2009, there hadn’t been a review since 2003. 

“We took a big hit but people accepted it,” he said, adding they opted out of benefits because they had just approved a nine-year pay increase. 

“We have to look beyond ourselves. We are setting up for the future,” said outgoing councillor Deborah Bronée. “We are always saying we would like to get younger people in.” 

She said as long as council is open and transparent about it, she believes the public will accept it.  

Thom Paterson, representative for the Creemore area, said the expectation is that with better pay, there is an increase in service.

“The expectation is that we do more,” he said. “The idea is not coming to a meeting, it’s what is done between meetings.” 

In addition to council voting to increase pay to match the 60th percentile of the market survey and offset the removal of 1/3 tax-free, they will adjust the base pay for elected officials annually at the same rate of management and non-union staff; adopt a practice of conducting a market review during the last year of the term of council in the first quarter; approve the health care spending account of $1,250 per year per council member, with premiums paid by the municipality.

While in-camera, council reviewed pay equity and salary compensation for staff members. All changes will be part of the 2019 public budget process.

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