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Another comparison looking at the Moose Jaw mayor's $100 grand a year salary

Ron Walter writes about the mayor's salary increase
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

The pay increases Moose Jaw City Council voted the next council and the four incumbents running again are a sore spot with many voters.

The 21 per cent increase to $100,068 for the mayor and the 28.5 per cent increase for councillors to $33,323 in January are hard to swallow for city employees who got a mere two per cent raise.

The increases are hard to swallow for local households where the median household income is $68,083.

The increase is hard to swallow for taxpayers dealing with the recent pandemic lockdown loss of income and the threat of a second shutdown.

The increases absolutely choke former city councillors who served for a pitiful amount. Yours Truly ran into a former long-term councillor just after council approved the raises. He was sputtering, livid with anger.

“When I was in council you got $165 per (Monday) council meeting. If you missed one you got nothing.”

The mayor claimed the increases were needed to attract candidates. The low number of candidates with three vacancies indicates that argument was wishful, self-serving baloney.

In an August Trading Thoughts column Yours Truly compared the mayor’s compensation and total city budget with 12 other cities in Western Canada. That comparison showed the Moose Jaw mayor’s salary was comparable with the budget size — eighth-highest salary and eighth-highest budget.

But a simple division revealing how much each mayor is paid per million dollars of budget is interesting.

By this measure, the mayor of Moose Jaw will be the fourth highest paid of the 12 cities, exceeded only by Brandon, Manitoba; Yorkton, and North Battleford.

It is interesting to note that five of the highest paid mayors per million of budget come from Saskatchewan where the mayor’s salary is linked to a percentage of a provincial cabinet minister’s salary.

The largest budget any of these Saskatchewan mayors deals with is Prince Albert with nearly $91 million. Saskatchewan cabinet ministers deal with deficits far greater than that amount and a $14 billion plus budget.

There is no comparison. The idea of comparing a mayor’s job with a provincial cabinet minister sounds good but there is no connection other than they are both in politics.

Once the mayor of Moose Jaw was to receive such a generous salary, the City of Regina decided to increase that mayor’s salary

To his credit, Mayor Michael Fougere said the pandemic is no time to increase council compensation. By contrast Mayor Fraser Tolmie of Moose Jaw argued for the 21 per cent increase.

A main argument in support of the Regina mayor’s increase claimed the increase was needed to keep the salary competitive like the private sector operates. Really?

The big difference: in the private sector an employee can leave for another company. No mayor or councillor can quit and join another council.

The public attitude to the compensation issue was summed up in a recent poll. Few of the respondents planned to vote for council incumbents. Fifty-one per cent wanted a whole new council.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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