Council approves pay hike for New Year

During a recent City council meeting it was decided a pay hike was suitable for councillors starting Jan. 1. Council agreed to compensation of $55,362 annually.

Earlier in the meeting, a report from Legislative and Governance Services was given regarding an in-depth look at how and how much council and the mayor are paid.

Elaine Vincent, manager of legislative and governance services (LGS), said there were some advantages to the current system. “Council is compensated for actual meetings attended and per diems are posted on the City of Red Deer web site and highlight the involvement of council,” said Vincent.

However, LGS did make a recommendation to council that they had looked at changing the current system to a total salary payable in the amount of $55,362.

“One of the big disadvantages is the administrative burden right now. A lot of staff resources are spent in administering the dual system,” said Vincent.

Another portion of the remuneration considerations was whether council would remain considered ‘part-time’ or if they would change to a ‘full-time’ status.

Many neighbouring cities and municipalities already have full-time councils such as Edmonton, Calgary and Sherwood Park.

The report from LGS indicated that the work councillors do does not match what the roles were described as pre-election. “Red Deer is Alberta’s fourth largest city and the largest three already all have full-time councillors,” said Vincent.

Before the 2010 election it had been considered to move to full-time but nothing changed. It was agreed that the change would be considered during the 2010-2013 term. The majority of council already say they would consider themselves full-time.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the amount of meetings and hours put in by councillors deems them full-time but doesn’t dictate that they be at City Hall eight hours a day.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies said the decision regarding pay is a hard one to make because it could benefit one person more than another.

“It is important for us to be comparable to other municipalities and consider our neighbours,” said Jefferies. She also said the change from part-time to full-time would not be much of a change at all.

“There are some weeks when we work more than full-time and some weeks when we don’t work part-time,” said Jefferies.

Flewwelling said a position on City council is not so much a job.

“It becomes an extension of your work and you think you have a day off but you don’t.”

They also agreed to have a more up-to-date remuneration strategy for the roles of mayor and council following the 2013 election.