Councillors Approve Immediate $13,000 Salary Increase +++

I know residents have come to expect me to keep them informed by providing an update after every meeting of Council, so that they are informed about the important issues that Council has discussed, debated and voted upon.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have words to describe what transpired at last night’s council meeting.  I will leave it to residents to watch the entire meeting themselves – WATCH HERE

I will simply state the outcome of the “debate”.

Council, on a 4 – 3 vote, approved an immediate increase to their compensation package,

Specifically, Councillors Weese, Gilliland, Gaertner and Gallo voted in favour of

  • An immediate increase in Councillor compensation to approximately $13,000;
  • An immediate increase to vehicle allowance to $3500
  • The immediate addition of severance up to 12 months for any Councillor that chooses to “retire”,  not run again or loses in the next election
  • The addition of OMERS pension for Councillors with shared contributions by the Town

As I said previously, once elected, members of Council entered into a de facto 4-year agreement with the residents of our community. This agreement outlines the responsibilities of and the compensation for the position.  Members are aware of those terms when they signed the agreement.

By voting to increase their salary and compensation, Council in the majority has now opted to make substantial changes to the terms of that agreement, just 11 months into the term.

As I have said for two weeks straight, I am against any immediate increase in council compensation. We should follow the past practice of every other Aurora Town Council –and ensure that any changes to compensation should not occur until the beginning of next term of office.

As I felt strongly that approving an immediate increase to Council salary and compensation was the wrong course of action, I passed the chair temporarily to Councillor Thompson, to introduce a couple of amendments. 

The first proposed amendment was that there should be NO increase to the Mayor’s salary, and the second suggested that the Mayor’s severance for the full-time position should remain at the current levels of up to 6 months, not at the extended level of up to 12 months that was approved for part-time Councillors. 

Both amendments were approved.

Which means that while Councillors will receive an immediate, approximate $13,000 raise in salary, there will be no change in compensation for the role of Mayor this term.

And while part-time Councillors will now be eligible to receive up to 12 months severance, the Mayor’s severance will remain at up to 6 months.

As Mayor, my role is to lead; to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community I serve.

And as I said at the table, when so many in our community are struggling to make ends meet, I do not believe an immediate and, in my opinion, frankly staggering increase in Council compensation is in the best interest of the community. 

Although the motion to approve the salary increase was approved last night, as was stated by both our Treasurer and myself during the General Committee meeting two weeks ago, and as I reiterated at last night’s Council meeting, this increase in salary and compensation is NOT included in the 2024-2026 Town of Aurora budget to be presented to Council next month.

As residents are aware, Aurora is one of 50 municipalities granted the added power and responsibilities of “Strong Mayor”, and one of the requirements of the provincial “Strong Mayors” legislation, is for the Mayor to present the Town’s budget.  In the Strong Mayor process, it is the Mayor that works with staff to set the Town’s budget and then present the budget to Council for review, and provide any amendments.

The budget is already prepared and the presentation to Council has already been scheduled.  In fact, the comment period on the “Mayor’s budget” was approved by Council last night.

To reiterate – an increase in council compensation is not included in the budget to be presented next month.

If Councillors wish to proceed with the increase in compensation that they have approved for themselves, then they will need to propose an amendment to the budget to include the additional costs to the taxpayers of aurora associated with the increase in compensation.

While last night’s decision by majority members of Council may have been disappointing for our community, any increase to Council compensation will need to go through the budget process, the matter is not final.

So, stay tuned for further developments. I recommend that any resident who is dissatisfied with this decision reach out to their Ward Councillor, and, as always, you can contact me at any time.

In the meantime here  are my opening remarks from the meeting last night…..

 

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One Response

  1. I would appreciate an answer from councillors Weese, Gilliland, Gaertner and Gallo to the question, “how do you justify these changes less than one year since you agreed to the original (4 year) terms of council appointment? What changed?”

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