Cold Lake councillors have decided to save the vote on increasing their compensations as well as the Mayor’s after the 2021 election, despite currently having some of the lowest pay in the province.
“When we last approached this, there wasn’t much will from this group to touch on increased pay,” said councillor Chris Vining. “I get the feeling that sentiment’s back with COVID going on.
“Voting to increase pay right now would just create angst in our community.”
Fellow councillor Bob Buckle expressed similar sentiments, hoping that the City’s ID 349 deal would be settled by the time the issue comes to council.
Councillors are currently reimbursed for overnight lodging at $25 per night, travel by plane, train, bus and automobile including personal vehicles and rentals as well as taxis at $0.51 a mile, and meals including breakfast, lunch, and dinner at $12, $17, and $25 respectively, with an additional $8.10 for gratuities.
The City previously sought resident feedback on how council and the mayor ought to be paid, though a lack of interest rendered the effort less successful than hoped.
Council re-examined the policy as part of its regular activities in the year leading to an election, which in addition to yearly pay also concerned whether or not the Mayoral position would be a part-time position, as it currently is, or full-time.
“One thing worth pointing out is that even under the Municipal Government Act, there isn’t a job description for a full-time or part-time Mayor,” said CAO Kevin Nagoya. “It’s up to a council and the Mayor themselves to make of it what they will.”
In administration’s reports to the council it was revealed that both council and Mayor Craig Copeland were some of Alberta’s lowest paid politicians — Buckle was the highest paid councillor at approximately $46,000 in 2019, while Kirk Soroka had the lowest at approximately $28,000.
Mayor Copeland’s 2019 salary sat around $67,000, while the same year Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski, himself a part-time mayor, made $92,000.
The low pay has been a running theme for Cold Lake council: when the policy was last discussed in 2013 council also voted not to increase wages in recognition of Alberta’s economic downturn at the time.