By Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden
At the time that our current council took office in December 2010, the municipality was using $1,493,771 from funds transferred from Casino Reserves to subsidize the operations of the municipality. Following the approval of the 2013 budget, that transfer was reduced to $0. The elimination of approximately $1.5 million from transfers to operations in 3 years is a true testament to the commitment that staff has made to finding efficiencies and reducing expenditures.
At the council meeting on May 21st, our Director of Finance brought forward a report that council had requested which contained a comparison of council remuneration (wages, benefits, and expenses) amongst all other municipalities in the County of Peterborough, along with the City of Peterborough, and the Township of Hamilton. The remuneration comparison report confirmed for me that our council’s total remuneration is disproportionately high when compared against our comparator municipalities.
An overview of the 2012 council remuneration follows below.
(Municipality, Total Council Remuneration)
Trent Lakes, $178,709.76
Cavan Monaghan, $146,659.89
North Kawartha, $109,251.61
Hamilton Township, $103,532.15
Otonabee-South Monaghan, $65,815.63
It’s interesting to note that the Municipal Property Tax Base of Trent Lakes, the only municipality with a higher remuneration for members of Council, is approximately double that of Cavan Monaghan.
At a time when each of our departments has been expected to reduce their budgets and be more efficient, and in light of this latest report before council, it’s my opinion that council has a responsibility to bring our own expenditures in line.
I brought forward several suggestions at the Regular Council Meeting on June 3rd, which would begin to address the issue, and will be discussed and voted upon at the meeting on July 2nd.
1) The Cost of Living increase that is typically applied to Council remuneration would not be applied in 2014.
2) The Township eliminates councillors’ additional per diem, over and above their salary for attending seminars, conferences, etc. effective immediately.
3) That all costs attributed to ManuLife Group benefits for all members of Council be paid for directly from their wages, not in addition to their salary. I am unaware of any other Municipality in Ontario that provides full Health and Dental benefits to members of Council and their entire families.
4) That expenses for members of Council be reduced to $1000 in 2014.
These suggested changes would reduce the overall council remuneration by approximately $30,000 and would be a great first step to addressing the issue.
Some may suggest that it’s necessary to pay higher remunerations to attract better individuals to municipal council positions. Given that MP’s and MPP’s typically make approximately 4 to 6 times the salary of a municipal councillor, do you feel that the significantly higher salaries at those levels of government have provided you with better results, and more importantly, better representation?
In my opinion, holding office at any level of government is both a privilege and honour, and with it comes great responsibility to the citizens that we represent. I work for our constituents, not for the money or the fringe benefits. Our compensation should be in line with comparator municipalities that have been clearly outlined in the latest report. In light of the report, we should be leading by example and making necessary changes to our own remunerations that reflect a more appropriate fiscal restraint.
Please join Councillor Belch and myself for a Town Hall meeting on June 11th in the Dorothy Stevens Room at the Old Millbrook School starting at 6:30 pm.