TLTI held a regular session of Council at the Lansdowne Council Chambers, February 13. In attendance were Mayor Bruce Bryan, Deputy Mayor Heidi Conarroe, Councillors Harold Emmons, Bridget Lesage-Tye, Wendy Merkley, Velma Kelsey, Geri Dickson, CAO Rodney Burkard, Clerk/Deputy CAO Vanessa Latimer, Administrative Assistant Kimberley Almeida, Planner Mark Touw and Facilities/Recreation Coordinator Ashley Purvis.
Council has voted in favour for a large remuneration increase of 56-65 percent, a decision that has many residents seeing red. The increase applies to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors.
Remuneration must be brought before Council once each term as stated in the Ontario Municipal Act.
Before the vote the Mayor received a remuneration of $18,143 plus $4,381 for expenses (total of $17,524) that has been increased to $20,495 (including $6,832 for expenses). The Deputy Mayor received $11,437 plus $3,832 for expenses (total of $15,269), she will now receive $18,919 (including $6,306 for expenses). Councillors received $9,842 plus $3,281 for expenses (total of $13,123) they will now receive $15,765 (including $5,255 in expenses).
Not all Councillors were in favour of the pay hike; Councillors Wendy Merkley and Harold Emmons voted against the motion. “I didn’t get into this for the money and I just felt it was too big a jump. Our staff members need to be paid the premium because we need to be able to get good staff. I do think we should get cost of living and we haven’t been, so I am not against it totally,” she said.
TLTI resident Claude Sang was upset that the motion was approved without an opportunity for comments or discussion by the public. Merkley said that option is only open during Committee of the Whole.
Mayor Bruce Bryan said it is up to Council to make these decisions and they take responsibility for everything they do. There has been no pay increase since 2008 and it was getting harder and harder to do the job in the midst of rising costs with that salary, he said.
“This is a full-time job, it’s not like it used to be. I don’t know how you would ever get consensus from everybody (on the pay increase) but these people have a big job to do. When we were hiring people over the last year our salaries were out of the ballpark. We had to play catch and come up with extra money for those extra positions that’s difficult to do,” he said.
Some local residents have started an online petition for Leeds and Thousand Islands councillors to rescind 60% pay increase. It can be accessed here: http://www.ipetitions.com/
Agenda and reports covered during Council can be accessed on the TLTI website at:https://leedsthousandislands.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=15695