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Thursday , 13 May 2021

Cold Lake residents will decide if city council is due for pay increase

The City of Cold Lake is looking for citizens to review how their mayor and council are paid.

After budget deliberations late last year, city council began discussing updating the current pay model.

Residents will compare what Cold Lake elected officials earn in comparison to similarly-sized towns and cities.

“We’re going to go to people in the community to volunteer and sit on a review panel, somewhere around 3-5 people to volunteer and look at what we’re currently getting and compare that with like-minded communities,” said Mayor Craig Copeland.

The committee, assisted by city administration, will also look at whether Cold Lake needs a full-time Mayor.

However, there was little appetite by council to change that structure, said Copeland.

“Whether or not Cold Lake needs a full-time mayor is subjective. We’ll let the 5 or so people who sit on the panel review the pay I’m currently getting and we’ll go from there. Most urban communities once you reach that 25,000-30,000 population, then they do make it a full-time paid position. I don’t think we’re there.”

Cold Lake council currently earns $1,958.34 per month or $23,500.00 per year in honoraria while the Mayor earns roughly $4,166.67 per month or $50,000.00 per year.

Councillors also earn a per diem of $125-$250 for attending conferences, workshops, and council committees.

In 2017, with all salary included Mayor Copeland earned $71,389 and the six councillors earned a total of $214,389.

“The issue is we’ve always felt it’s difficult to set our compensation sitting on council,” Copeland said.

“It’s an arms-length review so that way you aren’t setting your wages. I think it’s a good idea and council supported it. We’ll try this out and see what people in the community think about the pay to be an elected official in Cold Lake.”

The city administration has gathered compensation data from several communities including Brooks, Camrose, Whitecourt, and Leduc, to prepare for the review.

Locally, Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski earned $79,956 in 2017 and town council earned $288,790.

In 2016, Cold Lake and Bonnyville elected officials earned similar compensation.

This financial review will be the first since 2010.

If the committee believes Cold Lake should have a full-time Mayor it would come into effect after the next election in 2021.

Cold Lake CAO Kevin Nagoya said once the volunteers are found, the review could take six months.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.