Billings councillor suggests 80% increase to council renumeration

Says Billings is far behind most municipalities’ numbers

KAGAWONG—A proposal to significantly increase the remuneration paid out to members of Billings council received some support but also concerns from council members when proposed at a regular council meeting last week.

“I don’t agree with the (proposed) increases, they include basically an 80 percent increase,” stated Councillor Nora Bath-Haring, at the meeting.

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Councillor Barb Erskine had the issue of councillor remuneration increases included on the council meeting agenda last week. “I propose that for councillors, the remuneration be increased from $1,800 per year to $3,000, and an increase from $50 to $60 for committee meetings and from $60 to $70 for council meetings.”

For the mayor’s remuneration, “I proposed this be increased from $2,300 be moved to $5,000 per year. And for committee meetings, this be increased from $60 to $70 and from $70 for council meetings $80 per council meeting.”

“And I am proposing these raises take effect with the new term of the new council elected this year,” said Councillor Erskine. She explained one of the reasons she is proposing the increase is that the province has increased the minimum wage (in Ontario) to $15 per hour, “and if, for instance, you take the number of hours the mayor works-attends meetings every week and set it say at a minimum of seven hours a week-based on a minimum wage this would work out to $105 per week or $5,200 per year.” She pointed out the remuneration paid out to by other municipal councils in Ontario varies widely, and that the (Billings) council remuneration has not been raised in a long time.

However, Councillor Nora Bath-Haring said the councillor remuneration had been raised a couple of years ago.

“Yeah, maybe $25 dollars,” said Councillor Erskine.
“You’re right they didn’t go up much,” said Councillor Brian Parker.

Councillor Erskine explained, “we are going into a municipal council election this year, and we need to make this as attractive as possible to get good candidates.”

“People shouldn’t be running for council to make money, they should be doing this in the best interest of the township,” said Councillor Bath-Haring. “People shouldn’t be doing this for the money.” She said as well, “any increase (in remuneration) shouldn’t be any higher than the municipal tax increase.”

Councillor Erskine noted that to entice good people to put their names forward for the council elections, it needs to be as attractive to candidates as possible. She also noted, “a lot of people in Northern Ontario are retired, and not everyone has a generous pension.”

Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack said that council members do a lot of work in their community that they do not receive compensation for. “I have no problem with (council remuneration) increases.”

“I have no problem with it either,” said Councillor Brian Parker, “but I think we have to careful how much of an increase we are proposing.”

“Doubling or increasing the remuneration rates by double or 80 percent is too much,” stated Councillor Bath-Haring.

Council will consider a bylaw with the proposed council remuneration increases at a future meeting.