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Mayor amends pay cut to himself, Council Compensation review

Mayor Rick Bonnette amends pay cut to himself. Council Compensation Review

On Monday, I had the chance to attend the corporate affairs committee at the Town of Halton Hills chambers, and get my first taste of what it is like at the media desk. While I have been at the chambers before, mainly to protest something and with a focus on a single issue, it really humbled me and gave me a new respect for our Members of Council and media to sit there through their entire meeting and see the wide range of subjects covered.

While those attending chambers get to hear about each of these subjects covered, all of our Public Servants have to be well informed of each topic before making their final decision. The amount of work our Mayor and Councillors do truly deserves to be applauded.

Over my years living in Acton, I have reached out to our Mayor Rick Bonnette, Councillor Jon Hurst, and Councillor Mike Albano on multiple occasions, and they have always replied and been there to help promptly. From Mike Albano coming out to our community garden and volunteering countless hours, or having a meal to discuss a wide range of topics. To Jon Hurst and his helping with the garden from building our shed, disconnecting our eavestroughs , or assisting me with getting a ladder to help me on the roof to get better video of the Leathertown Festival, to Mayor Rick Bonnette, and his ability to answer any of my questions in an extremely timely manner considering his busy schedule, and always being friendly and readily available for interview.

All this praise goes beyond my personal experience as I have heard it echoed in various ways from multiple members of our community.

Knowing the things our Mayor and Councillors do, they deserve to be commended for all their hard work and effort they put into our community.

The reason I write this is, it is important when considering their pay to keep in mind what they do goes well beyond their job description.

Just at the “Corporate Affairs Committee” alone, I got to hear about a wide range of subjects, from the Acton Farmers Market and Georgetown Little Theatre requesting municipal assistance, which was granted for both. I also got to hear about Halton Hill’s plans for affordable housing, which was met with tremendous support. We also heard the very first “State of Culture” address from The Halton Hills Cultural Round Table. Acton UP will cover these stories and more in the near future.

Beyond those topics, a there was the findings and recommendations of the “ 2018 Council Compensation Review” presented by Laura Lancaster, Manager of Human Resources, a review in which the Town brought in an independent 3rd party consultant in order to assess the Council members compensation.

The review stated, “This year due to Bill C-44, that was tabled with the federal governments budget of 2017, the compensations review includes 1/3 tax exempt allowance the council receives as part of their remuneration”. Bill C-44 or the Budget implementation act, is “An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017, and other measures”. Bill C-44 removed the “1/3 tax exempt allowance starting January 1st 2019, for those municipalities who have not already done so. Our current compensation package for council includes this allowance, and once it is removed it will have a direct negative on the net pay for all members of council.” For those who find numbers nauseating, this basically translates to all of our members of the council doing the same amount of work, for less pay.

Along with Laura Lancaster was Marianne Love for ML Consulting who co-presented. They started their presentation by listing the topics included which were, “ An introduction to our budget team, the objectives of the project, an overview of BIll C-44 concerning the 1/3 tax exempt dilemmas, a review of the dieting pencils that are used for our council compensation packages, the process while undertaking this review”.

“The guiding principles acknowledged the members of council as centred on service to the community, however, it also recognized that the role is required to handle complex and important issues on behalf of the town. It further noted that the role of mayor was demanding with a heavy schedule and as such, it be considered a full time job”

While the main focus of the review was on “stipends received” the study also factored in “Car allowances and technology resources”.

“When addressing council remuneration the governing principles state, that the stipends should fairly reflect the contribution of members of council to our demographic society. That it should be such that it attracts and maintains a diverse representative pool of candidates to public service.” Also, that “Council remuneration should be sensitive to local market conditions, be seen as fair by tax payers and aligned to the 50th percentile of our relevant comparative rate”.

The council remuneration process is done every 4 years in the last year of the term to become effective at the start of the next term of council.

Some interesting things revealed in the study had shown that what public servants in Halton Hills make is not reflective of their comparators, with the Mayor making 17.8 percent less, where other mayors salaries range from “ $79,855 to $118,357”. Meanwhile, Halton Hills’s councillors are 13.6% below the 50th percentile, whereas their comparators “pay ranges from $32,441 through to $49,384 annually”.

The independent consultants recommendations included “that the town retain, the 50th percentile target for base pay for the elected official position.” They also recommended that “The Mayor position stipend be increased to $90,563 annually to be reflective of the principles referenced”. They also had recommended to “raise councillors positions to $35,844 to be reflective of the target percentile”.

After further comparatives, the Halton Hills mayor will be one of the lower paid positions in the GTA and area of “Dane size municipalities”. After taking into account the 1/3 exempt loss that will be taking place, they recommended the pay of the mayor to be increased to $114,500, while the councillor pay be raised by only 10.7%.

In what I thought was an outstanding display of leadership, Mayor Rick Bonnette who was acting as Chair, for Councillor Kentner, passed over his gavel so he could propose an amendment. Well the council was willing to support the pay raise up to $114,500 for the Mayor, he suggested that he is “no different than the council” and he should also only receive the increase of 10.7% recommended for the councillors, thus saving the Town of Halton Hills, give or take $56,000 over the next 4 year term.

After the vote for the amendment Councillor Jane Fogal stated, “everyone is happy to pay you less”. The room broke out in chuckles. Thank you Mayor.


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