Original Published on Jun 24, 2022 at 13:59

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The elected officials of Tay Township will soon be getting a raise.

Following a citizen committee, a financial analysis, and some self-doubting and self-empowering conversation among the members of council themselves, a unanimous decision was made to increase council remuneration for the 2022 to 2026 term as recommended by the audit committee at a recent regular meeting.

Increases for the elected will rise to $40,614 for the mayor from $35,066, $29,563 ($24,958) for the deputy mayor, and $24,080 ($20,257) for councillors in the upcoming term of council.

Finance staff with the audit committee compared Tay to the group of six similar municipalities comprising Clearview, Gravenhurst, Penetanguishene, Ramara, Severn, and Tiny Townships. The difference was that Tay had remuneration lower than the comparator average at a difference of $5,549 (roughly 12.7 percent) for the mayor, $4,605 (roughly 15.6 percent) for the deputy mayor, and $3,823 (roughly 15.9 percent) for councillors.

Coun. Jeff Bumstead raised concerns of how the remuneration had fallen behind Tay’s neighbours in the four year span since the 2018 examination, and expressed discomfort in supporting the large amount.

Financial analyst Jacqueline Genis explained that the citizen committee recommended a phased-in approach over the term, which ran the risk of falling behind. Mayor Ted Walker offered that an additional cause in the disparity resulted in council having waived the increase during the pandemic.

Rather than risk a recorded vote, Walker asked each councillor for their opinion; their responses were in support of the recommendation.

Coun. Barry Norris noted that from the 2018 citizen committee, the phased-in recommendation was due to Tay being an even larger difference in remuneration behind other municipalities, adding, “It’s the price of business these days.”

Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle was also in awe of the increase like Bumstead, but agreed with Norris. “Is this a volunteer position anymore? No. Not to what it used to be,” he stated. “It’s not an hourly job anymore; it’s time consuming.”

Coun. Paul Raymond remarked, “The unfortunate part is it’s not like we’re trying to reward ourselves. We’re just trying to play catch-up.”

Coun. Mary Warnock agreed.

“Some municipalities supply benefits to their councillors, and all those extra kinds of things that we do not get as a council. I think that the amount of work that each one of us has put in these past four years, the amount of committees we sit on, the meetings we have to attend; I think it’s very comparable.” It was a comment which Coun. Sandy Talbot echoed.

Walker requested that a comparison to other municipalities be provided, to which Genis supplied a spreadsheet in the virtual meeting showing the data used in the staff recommendation; all members of council leaned in to explore the comparisons.

LaChapelle had the last word. “This is probably the most engaging council that I’ve seen. Every one of us is on three or four committees. You know what that tells me? We’re involved with the community.” 

Council passed the motion. The financial impact to the 2022 fiscal year is estimated to be $3,968 representing 1.5 months at the increased rate plus the cost of statutory benefits.

The council remuneration staff report can be found in the council agenda on the township website

Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.

This item reprinted with permission from MidlandToday.ca, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario