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Council votes for mayor and councillor pay hike, but there’s a catch

Nine per cent increase for mayor and five per cent increase for councillor base pay will not go into effect until the 2022-2026 council term
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Downtown Collingwood on a cloudy morning. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

With a new Collingwood council in 2022 will come a bump in mayor and councillor base pay.

During Monday’s regular meeting of council, council voted in favour of providing a pay increase for the mayor and councillors based on recommendations from a report prepared by Gallagher Benefit Services Group Inc. that concluded pay for the positions should be slightly increased to be competitive with comparable municipalities.

Based on an amendment put forward by Coun. Steve Berman, the pay increase will go into effect when the 2022-2026 council is inaugurated next fall. The original motion called for the increase to start as of Jan. 1, 2022.

“We represent 26,000 residents, and you could argue that we have 26,000 bosses,” he said. “I don’t think many of them get an opportunity to vote themselves a raise.”

The motion with Berman’s amendment passed 5-2, with Coun. Kathy Jeffery and Coun. Deb Doherty opposed. Deputy Mayor Keith Hull and Coun. Tina Comi were absent from the meeting.

As part of Gallagher’s report, compensation data for council and non-union employees was compared between the Town of Collingwood and other municipalities such as Wasaga Beach, Meaford, Clearview, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Orillia.

The town adjusts the non-union salary grid annually in consideration of consumer price index, comparator increases, cost of living adjustments (COLA) and general changes in the market.

While Gallagher determined the town base remuneration is competitive, the report recommends the base remuneration continue to be adjusted by the same cost of living increases applied to non-union employee group and the town continues to undertake a market review once every term of office to ensure the remuneration remains competitive.

In 2020, the base salary for Collingwood’s mayor came in at $45,169, deputy mayor at $32,085 and councillors at $25,440 each. Members of council also get per-diem rates for special meetings outside of the regular schedule.

SEE ALSO: Collingwood council salaries down slightly in 2020 compared to 2019.

For the mayor position, Collingwood ranked generally in the middle of the municipalities in regards to base salary, with Orillia, Owen Sound, Huntsville and New Tecumseth’s mayors making more than that, while Wasaga Beach, Innisfil and Clearview’s mayors making less. There were similar findings in regards to the deputy mayor and councillor positions.

The report recommended, and council has now approved, adjusting the base remuneration for mayor to $49,458 (9.5% increase), adjusting the base remuneration for councillor to $26,712 (5% increase), to be more closely aligned to that of deputy mayor, and considering alternative benefit offerings including a Health Spending Account in lieu of insured benefits coverage.

During Monday’s meeting, Jeffery asked when council compensation in Collingwood was last increased, outside of regular cost-of-living increases. CAO Sonya Skinner said a review last took place in 2013.

“I think it’s unfortunate...that we wouldn’t have separated out council compensation consideration earlier in the term,” said Jeffery. “I don’t agree with Coun. Berman’s amendment because I think they should start immediately. I think this should be achieved the first year of a term, not the last year.”

Jeffery also made comments on an amendment that would see councillor professional development expense accounts be allowed to be used toward child care expenses while doing municipal business.

“To devalue the money we have for professional development, and take it away from professional development, to me, it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “This kind of move, to me, smacks a little of tokenism and really not solving the problem.”

“I think, the better way, would be to assign more resources that are needed to council members,” said Jeffery.

Council voted unanimously to refer the matter back to staff to prepare a report on all barriers that may preclude residents from running for council, which may include child care.

Recommendations to proceed with adjustments to the non-union salary pay grid and amendments to human resource policies were also passed unanimously at Monday’s meeting, with Coun. Kathy Jeffery declaring a conflict on the non-union portion.

An amendment calling on staff to report back to council at a future time on options regarding council being a part-time versus full-time position, as well as council composition and moving from an at-large versus ward system was passed 4-3, with Coun. Mariane McLeod, Coun. Bob Madigan and Coun. Berman opposed.


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 12 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood, County of Simcoe and education.
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