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Council compensation policy to be reviewed



 

Town council has amended its council compensation policy and will have the matter reviewed.


According to a report from clerk Kevin Fox, a consultant would be engaged to perform a council salary market compensation review and that will be funded from the clerk’s professional fees. Recommendations that are approved would take effect for the next term of council, starting in 2026.


The recommendation in Fox’s report that was approved at the most recent meeting called for $9,503.02 be authorized to “equalize compensation to all council members on a retroactive basis to the start of this term of council.” Also approved was administration using the travel and business expense policy with regards to such expenses being incurred by members of council. Any amendments to that policy will be brought back to council for future consideration.


“The first change that is recommended (in the council compensation policy) is to separate out the council compensation and travel/business expense elements. This change would clarify the requirements of each policy, reduce confusion or duplication with the town’s travel and business expense policy and ensure consistency in the application of Town policy,” Fox stated in his report. “The second recommended change would be to ensure that a council salary market compensation review is conducted on a regular basis, so that compensations for future councils do not languish behind comparable compensation reviews and attempt to more accurately reflect current market conditions.”


Compensation is “a way in which the community can recognize the contributions of civic leaders as the representatives of their communities, and recognize the impact the role can have on the personal and professional lives of members,” Fox noted, and while that is not a motivation for running for council ”should the compensation rates be set too low or fail to offset the true costs in any meaningful way, then there will be a deterrence factor created for others to take on the mantle of civic leadership and carry on the great works that are possible of public office holders.”


Fox stated once the review is finished, council would be able to vote on changes for the next term of council, not the current one.


“The review provided a third recommendation with regard to pensionable contributions. The Town provides options with regard to pension contributions, either contributions made to OMERS, or contributions made to an RRSP. The Income Tax Act requires that you must begin your pension on December 1st of the year in which you reach age 71, regardless of whether or not you are working and will no longer accept contributions once this date/age threshold has been met,” said Fox. “For RRSP you can continue to contribute until December 31st of the year when you reach 71. Where possible, contributions can be made to the spouse’s RRSP until they reach the age limit as well. As a result of these requirements, the financial contributions made to council members is unequal for those before and after those ages. It is proposed that the policy be amended to reflect should a member be of an age to no longer receive pension or RRSP contributions, an equivalent contribution is made to the member’s pay, ensuring all members of council receive an equal apportionment of financial contributions.

The amended council compensation policy before council incorporates this recommended change.”


Councillor Diane Pouget noted the point in the report regarding pensions and wondered if that applied to her. CAO Valerie Critchley said it would “apply to any member of council who was not eligible to participate in OMERS due to their age.”


Pouget said she didn’t reach out to the integrity commissioner and asked if she should declare conflict.“We can advise with regards integrity conflicts. That is the role of the integrity commissioner,” said Fox. “Generally, when we are reviewing issues relating to compensation for council, those do not tend to be seen as conflicts of interest.”


Mayor Michael Prue added he didn’t contact the integrity commissioner either but said there was no need to.


“It is well established in law and practice that when councils across Ontario set their wages, their benefit packages and other things, that is not and never is a conflict of interest,” said Prue. “There is no other body that can do it, so it is exempted. I did not declare conflict of interest. It is not up to me to advise Councillor Pouget, but I would strongly recommend she does not have one either. It is difficult at times to have to do this, but that is part of our role.”

Council compensation policy to be reviewed

By Ron Giofu

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