FOR THE GAZETTE
County council approved a rate increase to municipal staff members and a rate increase for travel expenses.
The report prepared by Human Resources and Organizational Development Manager, Susan Thomas, is to provide information and recommendation to Prince Edward County Council to align with other municipal council compensation.
A recommendation in the report, which passed during Tuesday’s regular council meeting, is for Council to direct staff to align the travel expenses to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at the amount of $0.59 per kilometre.
The other recommendation is to approve the remuneration for 2022 for the Mayor at $50,736, Council at $25,368 and the Committee Chair Honorarium at $142 and that the rates be indexed by Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The report explained the policy provides for Council and Committee Chair remuneration to be adjusted annually by an amount equal to the CPI, or the cost of living, according to Statistics Canada, as averaged over the past twelve months.
Mayor Ferguson touched on how difficult it would be to support a two per cent salary hike in light of the struggle many have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I understand fully how hard everybody has worked over the course of time since March of 2020 and prior to that and how much work lies ahead. I’ve got to look at this on the basis of what others have suffered, and for that reason, I cannot and will not support the increase in the salary component,” he explained.
Coun. Kate MacNaughton was in favour of the salary increase, saying it could be helpful for more restricted households, and not a luxury.
“This is one of the things that makes elected representation very difficult; is that the remuneration is not particularly reimbursed in a sense of being able to balance a household budget and still provide representation – particularly in a region where the needs are quite high and the expectations are quite high,” she said. “I would consider that not all households are well-off and some might actually rely on this to participate.”
Coun. Jamie Forrester added that an increase to the Mayor and council members is warranted due to the workload.
“This will be the first time in 11 years that I will vote to give an increase to the councillors and the mayor. I think this job has changed substantially over the time since I have been here. I have watched mayors from my first term working 2-and-a-half to 3 days, to mayors who now work five days a week plus,” he explained. “This is a totally different job than it used to be when I first started. If we wish to encourage people in the future to run for a position that requires this much time and this much effort and going outside of what I would consider a normal type of job … I think we have to pay a wage that is comparable to working out in the general workforce.”
Coun. Phil St. Jean agreed, saying though he recognizes this is more than a normal increase, it is appropriate.
“When I saw this report, I had some reservations. It is always my preference that the outgoing council set the rate for the incoming council, but I agree with Councillor Forrester – this job, you look at those numbers, it is not indicative of the workload,” he said.
He suggested that council do a full review for the next term of council.