OPINION: Getting your money’s worth

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Getting your money’s worth
The City of Cornwall flag outside of City Hall (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

Did you know that your Cornwall City Councilllor makes less money than their South Glengarry counterparts? I didn’t until last Monday.

Cornwall Council passed a raise for themselves at that Monday meeting. Currently they make a little over $16,000. This new raise will bring them up to $22,000 by 2022, which is the current provincial average.

There are three reasons why this raise is a good thing.

The first being that it will allow more people to run and serve as councillors. In administration’s report to Council about their own compensation, administration stated specifically that the low pay of councilors might deter those who are less well off or are employed from seeking to run for the position. This I think is true, it is easier for those who are retired to run for and to sit on council because they have the time and income to do it.

In eighteenth and nineteenth century England and in the United States, those who were elected to government were wealthy landowners because they had the time and money to do so, and because of that, it was their views that were primarily represented.

By making it easier for more people to run and sit on council we, the voters will benefit from having a diversity of perspectives representing us, rather than just a narrow perspective from one segment of the population.

The second reason is quality of candidates. Now, I am not knocking anyone who is currently sitting on council, nor anyone who ran for council in the election last October. I heard a lot of great ideas during the election and it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there. However, maybe there were some great candidates out there who did not run because they felt that they would not be appropriately compensated for their time.

To me, it reminds me of an emerging artist who is asked to work for exposure. Sure, they are artists because they love the work, but love doesn’t put food on the table and plenty people can die of exposure. Also, the work of an artist, like the work of a councillor, has value.

That brings me to my third point, value. A councillor’s work is valuable, they make important decisions that affect the future of everyone in the City. They also spend more than just a few hours every couple of weeks at Council meetings. According to a report in 2018 done by City administration, the average councillor spends 275 hours a year working on City business. Whether that be sitting in Council meetings, attending events, committee meetings or other duties.

City council are our employees, we should incentivize them based on what we think their job is worth when done properly. If voters think that a councillor is not earning their pay, then vote them out.

Councillors are in a difficult position, because they are responsible for giving themselves raises, no one else can increase their pay, which makes it a difficult decision politically, but in this case, it had to be done.

If anything, I think that Councillor Todd Bennett, who voted against the motion, had a point that if anything, council should have been voting on a pay increase for the next council and not themselves.

Council vote on this issue reflex’s a mixed view as not all supported…but for one to abstain (why) is another question, (one we are looking into).

What do you think readers? Should council have given itself a pay raise? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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