Tuesday, April 28, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 17 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week

“It starts with the public, the public is involved in the process, and it must end with the public as well.”

- Sergeant Scott Howard  
- on crime and convictions   

 

A Fragile Lens- Nathen GallagherAs part of the municipality’s audited financial statement process, the numbers for councillor salaries and benefits in 2008 were calculated and made public. I present the numbers here:
Mayor John Irwin: $18,440.
Councillor Salus: $18,190.
Councillor Mitchell: $14,020.
Councillor Taje: $13,670.
Councillor Ward: $13,640.
Councillor Cole: $13,010.
Councillor MacLeod: $11,250.
I find these numbers interesting for a few reasons that I’d like to talk about.
Members of council receive both a monthly stipend and money for each meeting they attend, along with allowances for food, travel, etc. when they go out of town on municipal business. The mayor’s monthly stipend is higher than that received by councillors because of the greater time required for the position.
Overall, council salaries and benefits totalled $102,220 in 2008; this is a 12 percent increase over what council made in 2007, counting both the new councillors after the election and the former councillors before the election.
It’s a little eye-raising when these numbers come forward in a year when council cut funding to many outside groups by 10 percent, cut back on dust suppressant and equipment replacement, tendered out advertising, chopped the fall cleanup, didn’t have to give any money to the Crowsnest Centre, and still ended up with a 3.8 percent tax increase.
It should also be mentioned that the salary increases we are talking about –– a 12 percent increase –– occurred in the same year in which council approved an 11.2 percent tax increase.
Councillor Salus, in the meantime, made over $4000 more than the next closest councillor on the list. This would be because he attends many more meetings than the other councillors. Councillor Salus very nearly made as much as the community’s mayor.
 
All of this lends credence, in my eye, to Councillor Mitchell’s suggestion that council cut back on the number of committees it sits on. He suggested this during the budget process, but a majority of council felt it would be better to wait until later in the year, possibly until their organizational meeting in October, to make any changes.
In fairness, it must be stated that Councillor Salus also spoke in support of the idea of reducing the number of committee obligations at some point.
Direct comparisons between 2007 and 2008 for individual councillors is impossible in the case of new councillors, who were elected in October of 2007. Three members of council won another term at that election, however, and these can be properly compared.
Mayor Irwin made $18,405 in 2007, and only increased that by $35 in 2008.
Councillor Taje made $14,265 in 2007. In 2008 he decreased that number by $595.
Councillor Ward made $12,145 in 2007; in 2008 that number increased by $1495.
Where did all these extra meetings come from? Part of it can be attributed to the committee council formed to look at where to move tenants from the Crowsnest Centre. The cost of legal fees involved with council’s determination to close the Centre also numbers in the tens of thousands of dollars.
No recommendation has yet come forward from that committee about where to move tenants. The Centre, meanwhile, has not asked for any money from the 2009 budget, and is currently booked basically full for the rest of the year despite council’s actions.
Money well spent, wouldn’t you say?
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