West Lincoln’s mayor and councillors voted themselves a raise alongside 2023’s budget deliberations.   

An increase of 22 per cent has been added to Mayor Cheryl Ganann’s salary accompanied by a 40 per cent jump to councillors’ salaries.

Introduced by Coun. Terry Bell, councillors passed a resolution at the Feb. 21 administration/finance/fire committee directing staff to review and report back on a $30,000 annual remuneration for councillors with two options, one with a phased-in remuneration over a four-year period or a one-time increase. 

Bell said there has been an increase in workload and meetings for councillors, and said an increase to $2,500 monthly would more accurately reflect the workload. 

Option one, approved unanimously by council at the March 20 meeting, raises councillors’ salaries from $21,423 to $30,000, which resulted in an addition of $56,600 to this year’s tax levy.

With this increase in the councillor’s salary, certain benefit costs such as CPP, EHT, OMERS and life insurance would also be part of the increase. 

Council also approved a raise of the mayor’s salary, from $38,310 to $47,000.

Option two, the phased-in option, would have added $15,000 to 2023’s tax levy with a remuneration of $23,900 in 2023.

According to the township, neither option was initially included in this year’s tax levy presented in the operating and capital budget reports. However, it was added before council voted on the final budget on March 27. 

The increase was ratified at the March 27 council meeting, and the budget adjustments are based on all councillors receiving the same remuneration.

Though the original request from February did not reference the mayor’s salary, in the March 20 report staff noted that reviews of council remuneration have always looked at councillors’ and mayor’s salaries collectively. 

“Adjusting councillor’s salaries without addressing the mayor’s salary creates a situation of ‘compression,’” the report reads. “As councillors’ salaries increase, the proportionate adjustment should be made to the mayor’s annual salary.” 

In a letter to staff, community member Gord Davis of Caistor Centre suggested it is improper procedure and unfair to have elected officials vote on their own salary. He put forward two resolutions that were included in the March 20 meeting agenda, recommending staff draft a bylaw to standardize the compensation adjustment process and a report detailing the increase in taxes needed to increase salaries. He noted that all township employees should be treated equally and the current compensation exceeds the township remuneration policy. 

Coun. Jason Trombetta said requests from citizens “don’t usually come as recommendations to the committee” and asked chief administrative officer Bev Hendry how it came forward as a recommendation.

Beverly said Davis’s recommendations came as correspondence, which the township accepted but “are only there for information, the same as the individuals who sent their resolutions regarding the anti-abortion flyers with graphic images.”

The approved increases are effective Jan. 1, 2023.

By Beatriz Baleeiro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 20, 2023