Town Council defers pay raise decision until next term

July 20, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Orangeville’s current Council has decided against giving next term’s electees a pay raise, at least for now.

The issue of council remuneration is often contentious no matter where you live, and Orangeville is no different. This past week Council discussed whether it would be appropriate to boost councillors’ annual pay packets to offset the upcoming loss of a one-third tax allowance previously made available by the federal government.

In theory, the proposed increase wouldn’t really be an increase at all. Members of Council would net the same amount in 2019 as was earned in 2018, the difference being that taxpayers would be on the hook for a larger amount.

It’s a move Council has known about for some time. For decades, elected municipal officials had been able to take advantage of a tax break that meant members didn’t pay taxes on one-third of their income. As part of the 2017 federal budget, Ottawa eliminated those allowances, giving municipalities until Jan. 1, 2019 to make any changes to potentially offset the change.

Dufferin County council decided back in April that it would increase members’ salaries to offset the eventual loss, with Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock noting that was in line with some “90 other municipalities across Ontario”. 

To fully cover the loss, the municipality will have to find another $24,169 from next year’s budget. For council members to make the same next year as they did this year, the mayoralty will require an increase of $6,590, deputy mayor $3,184 and councillors $2,879.

Coun. Don Kidd let his thoughts be known early, stating under no circumstance would he support a salary increase. Coun. Nick Garisto shortly followed suit. Considering himself something of a tax crusader for the community, Coun. Garisto said he would not be in favour of any move that increases the burden on municipal ratepayers.

“We cannot penalize the taxpayer for the actions of the federal government. I find it very disappointing the federal government did this and here we are, like other cities and municipalities, having to go to the taxpayer to fork out the difference because the federal government decided to do this,” Coun. Garisto said. “It’s not fair to the people of this town.”

Perplexed by what he was hearing, Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock said he would vote right alongside councillors Kidd and Garisto “if they want to move this and get less than what they have been getting”.

Coun. Sylvia Bradley noted that Council “has a responsibility” to act appropriately here. Having announced her retirement last week, any increase would not affect her. With that said, she called for Council to adopt a salary increase for next term’s elected officials. Mayor Jeremy Williams agreed.

“The money members get is already not enough. I know it’s a very easy to take the route out and say ‘I’m not supporting any increase’, that we should all volunteer in essence, but there can’t be anything right with that,” Mayor Williams said. “We need quality people on Council. We need to make sure they’re paid at least enough to replace any lost income from being here.”

Two motions were put forth and defeated, the first from Coun. Kidd suggesting salaries remain the same and have members of Council net less money from this point forward and another from Coun. Bradley calling for the increase to take place so that “wages are kept whole” for the next Council.

With motions detailing the only two options failing, Coun. Scott Wilson suggested Council refer the issue to a compensation committee so that a recommendation can be made and voted on next term. Ontario’s municipal elections will take place on Oct. 22.

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