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Do mayor and councillors deserve steep increases in paycheque?

Ron Walter looks at city council's track record
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

Among the issues voters will consider in the November civic election  is the matter of the pay increase council voted itself for the next term.

The pay raises — 28 per cent for councillors to $33,323 and 21 per cent for the mayor to $100,068 — were recommended in an independent report. The recommendations were based on a formula linking their paycheques to a provincial MLA’s salary.

Mayor Fraser Tolmie, who was most aggressive in advancing his $1,746 a month pay increase, claimed that councillors went above and beyond their obligations: He said Coun. Heather Eby served hot dogs at an event when High Street was re-opened after a water main replacement.

Coun. Crystal Froese, he said, supported women entrepreneurs, and Coun. Scott McMann took some days to promote city business.

Are those not things we expect of councillors anyway?

Council voted for the pay raise knowing it had just agreed to a mere 1.5 per cent wage increase for city employees, knowing that in these pandemic times leaders should sacrifice to give residents hope, or it should have known that sacrifice is expected.

Our mayor will be paid more than the mayor of booming Lloydminster. His increase will near the total amount a minimum wage earner gets in a year’s pay.

Councillors kept talking about the hours put in, as if this were an hourly pay gig. Voters expect their political leaders to go above and beyond putting in hours.

Council should remember U.S. President Harry Truman’s comment:  “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”

A better way to determine if council and the mayor deserve these whopping double digit increases would be to review the track record of the last 45 months in office.

This council attacked the long standing water main replacement need with gusto. This council hired the contractor who walked away from the Manitoba Street and underpass job to do High Street. And when he screwed up High Street, the city took another year to finish the job.

That explains why Eby was serving hot dogs on High Street.

This council has been taxing residents over $800,000 a year for a recycling program that recovered less than one per cent more than when recycling was voluntary.

This council leaped on the Mac the Moose band wagon after two young men did a video telling us how Mac was no longer the biggest moose in the world.

This council promoted a pea plant, knowing the promoter was under investigation for fraud in Germany. When the Moose Jaw Times-Herald was going to expose the scandal the mayor leaned on the publisher to kill the story.

The story was hushed up. The pea plant promoter went to jail.

This council boasted about a $7.5 million industrial land sale to an unknown firm and committed thousands of taxpayer dollars to put the industrial park in shape for Carpere, only to have it back out of the deal, leaving taxpayers to pick up the costs.

This council agreed to give the new Canadian Tire project a 20-year no competition clause on land next to it and lost the deal. And this council signed a long term deal with the management company that operates Mosaic Place and leaves taxpayers on the hook for all losses.

Incidentally, the mayor and council at Thunder Bay, Ontario (population 95,000) gave up scheduled annual wage increases this year as a symbolic gesture to taxpayers. That mayor is paid $80,000 a year. Councillors get $27,000.

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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