Pay set for incoming city council

    Mayor and Council salaries were set pending the new council’s ratification at the Sept. 18 regular meeting of council.
    The next Mayor’s salary is set to increase by $822 to $65,822.00, the new Deputy Mayor will make $36,203.00 and councillors will get $32,911.00.
    “Running for office should be about dedication to public service and not the money,” said Cathleen Peter-Swart, Interim Director of Corporate Services with the City of Chestermere.
    “At the same time, it is important that we ensure that the remuneration, as well as benefits and expenses, is not so prohibitive that the average person cannot be on Council,” she said.
    The changes to Mayor and Councillor remuneration, benefits and expenses was brought forward on the recommendation of the Council Resident Review Committee.
    Peter-Swart said that a lot of work went into making the recommendations for council pay.
    “The Policy was created after conducting extensive research and looking at what other comparator municipalities pay their elected officials,” she said.
    Comparing council remuneration in Chestermere to similar municipalities in Alberta helps to ensure the city follows accepted best practices.
    “Which allows the City to make improvements or adapt specific best practices with the aim of continually seeking to improve our practices and processes and ensure that we are comparable,” said Peter-Swart.
    The use of the comparator cities is particularly important this year because of changes made by the Federal Government that affect the pay of elected officials.
    Starting in 2019, elected officials such as city mayors and councillors will no longer be able to claim the first third of their pay as expenses.
    “Which means that the full rates of remuneration will be treated as taxable income,” said Peter-Swart.
    “Unless gross rates of remuneration for elected officials are adjusted, net pay will be significantly less as of 2019,” she said.
    The final change made to council remuneration was to include elected officials in the city benefits plan.
    “The public advisory committee supported this move and was adamant that elected officials have the same access to benefits as City employees,” said Peter-Swart.
    While the current city council has approved the changes to council pay and benefits, these changes will have to be given final approval by the next council at their first meeting in November before the changes will take effect.
    Peter-Swart said that it is normal for the outgoing council to set the remuneration rate for the new council.
    “Traditionally, a current Council sets the remuneration rate for the next Council in the year leading up to the next election,” she said.
    Mayor Patricia Matthews said that this done so that residents and candidates know what the remuneration rates are going into the election.
    “This keeps the process unbiased but if a new Council chooses to make changes to the recommendation by that public committee they can,” said Matthews.