CORNWALL, Ontario – By a razor-thin majority, city council has voted for a massive raise that will take effect next year.
In a 6-5 vote, with Mayor Bob Kilger breaking the tie, council voted to phase in the increase starting in 2015.
The mayor will see the biggest hike to nearly $75,000, including a $12,000 expense budget. Kilger currently makes $63,100 a year, which also includes $12,000 for expenses.
Councillors will get a big hike too – going to a little more than $25,000 a year, from the existing salary that is nearly $18,000 a year (which also includes a $2,500 expense account).
A benefit package for the mayor will be maintained.
Those voting in favour of the raise had this to say:
Mayor Bob Kilger:
“There’s never a good time, or an easy time to deal with the issue of compensation.”
“And so, for me the compensation is not perceived as giving ourselves a raise. It’s about setting a standard of compensation for the next council. Who’s to say we will be there?”
“We face (challenges) honestly, respectfully, and we continue to carry on to the best of our ability with integrity. And so, the compensation package for me is a question of fairness.”
Coun. Glen Grant:
“What do other municipalities compensate their councils? Having said that, we must be the only one doing it right, or the only one doing it wrong.
“When I put my name in for city council, I didn’t have a clue what it paid.”
Coun. Andre Rivette:
“A lot of us around this table have gone over and above, and we’ve taken a lot of BS for it.”
“It’s a lot more than just putting your name on a ballot. The taxpayers of Cornwall…are going to realize it’s important to have someone who can do the job.”
“This thing is very fair. And if the taxpayers feel that Rivette is no good, then throw me out. I have n problem with that.”
“The bottom line is you’re not being true to yourself, because it is fair.”
Coun. Elaine MacDonald:
“This is a situation that has been going on for years, that council has been undercompensated.”
“The basic principle is…the work we do is very valuable. And any work deserves a fair compensation.”
“When you say that they don’t come here for the compensation…what you’re saying is this is really a rich person’s club.”
“Cornwall has been getting a bargain, so we shouldn’t even worry about raising…it’s not even a raise. It’s correcting an injustice.”
Coun. Syd Gardiner:
“I’ve been saying for a long time council compensation has been unfair. At the end of the day it has to be done in four stages.”
“Anyone who tells me the next councillor, whether it be me or anyone else…it’s not right and it’s not fair. It won’t be fair for the new council. No matter who sits at this table they need to be fairly compensated and I will continue to say that.”
Coun. Denis Carr:
“I’ve been sitting around this particular table for as long as anyone…this discussion has come up many times.”
“There’s never a right time to do this kind of work.”
“To suggest that I’m rich, or part of a rich man’s club, I’m going to have to explain that when I get home tonight. Because I am not a rich man and this has never been a rich man’s club.”
“And we all know, because we’ve been here, you can change a decision of council. So if you have a new council that comes in, they have the opportunity to turn it down.”
Those who voted against the raise include:
Coun. Gerry Samson:
“I don’t care how you divide it. I’m thoroughly against this. You have people who are suffering.”
“I will not entertain anything above two per cent. We’re here to serve.”
Coun. Maurice Dupelle:
“When we all put our name on the paper, there was no hourly rate there.”
“To me we receive an honorarium every year.”
“We can’t be compared to that. We’re here because we have a passion.”
“I don’t do it for what I’m being paid.”
Coun. Denis Thibault:
“It has to do with our willingness to serve the community in any way we can and hours are not what this job is about. This is community service. I realize it’s not perceived the same way by everybody.”
“We’re all here trying to do a job for community.”
“I guess from a community perspective…how much is a councillor worth? I think once that question has been answered, we’ll have a better answer as to what kind of salary…that people around this table should get paid.”
Coun. David Murphy:
"We’ve talked about this longer than the budget numbers. We’ve asked our department heads to hold the line. We’ve asked our unions to hold the line.”
“There are no silver spoons in my family. I can’t in good conscience vote against the last two budgets…and vote for a pay raise. It’s my gut feeling. I’ve told my colleagues that from the get go.”
Coun. Bernadette Clement:
“This isn’t easy one way or the other. It takes courage and guts to make a motion to increase your pay.”
“It’s not easy on the other side of it to say you don’t want to raise your level of compensation.”
“I know the work we do is valuable.”
“It’s clear the work we do is valuable. That being said, when making financial decisions for a community, there’s a long list of things you have to look at.
“For me, at the end of the day, it’s about whether the city can move forward with this particular decision.”
“Do I feel a significant increase to city pay will move this city forward? I don’t.”