Councillors raise the pay rate for their successors

By David F. Rooney

The men and women elected this fall to serve as mayor and councillors will be somewhat better paid than the current crop of civic leaders.

Council has approved a salary increase to $28,000 — up from $22,000 — for the mayor and $14,000 for councilors — up from $11,000. But the pay increase will not come into effect until December 1.

Even Councillor Tony Scarcella who is something of a Doctor No on Council for his bait of voting against many things that involve spending money said he was in favour of the increase because “it might attract more candidates” in this autumn’s municipal election on Nov. 19.

And Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt suggested that it may prompt people other than mostly retired, middle-aged white guys to run for office.

She also noted she spends so much time in meetings at so little pay that “by the time I retire I will be in the poor house.”

Peter Frew, the longest serving member of Council, said he recalls only two pay increases since 1993 when councillors were paid $8,000 a year.

“If you do the math that’s an increase of $167 per year,” he said.

Councillors spend at least a dozen hours every week just boning up on the materials they are expected to understand before Council meetings, as well as another two-to-four hours attending committee meetings. Council’s open meetings can last as long as four hours with perhaps another hour or two of private, in camera meetings afterwards.

All things considered, they are probably getting something close to minimum wage — not a lot of return for their time and dedication.

Of course, some people may think they’re still over-paid.

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