Saturday , 25 September 2021

M.D. discussing fifteen per cent increase in councillor pay

The M.D. of Bonnyville is mulling over how council should be paid for committee meetings and conferences after the changes by the federal government which eliminated the one-third exemption tax exemption for elected officials.

On Jan. 1, councillors were set to take home $5000-6000 less than in 2018, so administration brought forward a change that would increase 15 per cent in the 2019 budget – the same as RMA’s recommendation.

They are reviewing a new policy to set the new pay for council over the next five year period.

Council tabled the policy as they are split on how to go about compensation.

“I don’t ever really like the fact that politicians decide their own pay and I don’t think the public likes that as well,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk.

“This is going to be another interesting conversation when it comes back to council and I look forward to it anyways.”

M.D. administration will bring back changes, including splitting the original policy of remuneration and councillor, committee, and board member attendance into two separate forms.

Councillors will give their recommendations to administration during this review.

M.D. councillors before the change this year were earning $2000 a month in basic honorarium and the reeve was earning $2932.50.

The proposed change would see that bump up to $2300 a month and the Reeve would earn $3450 a month.

Meeting rates for elected officials would move up to $172.50 for meetings/conferences less than four hours, $345 for meetings/conferences between 4-8 hours, and $450 for meetings longer than eight hours in the proposed new policy.

Changes for committee meetings would be $150 for meetings less than four hours, $300 for meetings between 4-8 hours, and $400 for meetings longer than eight hours.

“That again will be a question: are the councillors and Reeve willing to take the hit right now when we’re in a slow economic time and others are doing the same, or do you raise the cost to the taxpayer? Again, I look forward to the conversation,” said Sawchuk.

Cold Lake city council is doing an arms-length review of council pay with community members, something Sawchuk was open to.

“I think we have to consider everything at this point in time because you can certainly tell that council were split on this. I would agree outside input as well.”

The policy will likely come back to council within the next couple meetings.

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.