In the last blog entry, I referenced the February 2015 decision of Regional Councillors to vote themselves a 2.93% raise (and, at the same, time remove the integrity commissioner, because it was too expensive). Then, when I was on-air yesterday for the Noon30, we got talking about Hydro One’s board voting themselves a raise, which turned into a more general discussion about politicians voting for raises for themselves.
If I am elected to Regional Council, I will bring a motion to have regional councillors paid based on a formula and remove their ability to vote for raises for themselves.
When I served on St. Catharines City Council, councillors were paid based on the formula of 50% of the median household income. It’s just that simple.
St. Catharines City Council doesn’t vote on their own pay; it’s based on a formula that’s been in place for years (and remains in place). If the median income decreases, so too does a city councillor’s pay. If the median income increases, so too does a city councillor’s pay.
Presently (according to the 2018 Candidates’ Guide issued by the St. Catharines Clerk’s Office), city councillors are paid $21,029 per annum (with 1/3 of that being deemed non-taxable). Based on the formula the City currently uses, then, the median household income in St. Catharines is $42,058.
According to the Niagara Region’s website, regional councillors are currently paid $30,204 per year, and they receive an additional $2,000 if they are chair of a standing committee.
If we used similar formula for the Niagara region, then (based on 2016 census data) regional councillors would be paid $32,543.
Of course, if the sources I’ve cited here are correct (I don’t know when the Region’s website was last updated), then this would end up being another raise for regional councillors. I’m not advocating for a raise.
There are some people who think that politicians in Niagara aren’t paid enough; however, as a woman who had a very modest upbringing and continues to live a very modest life, I wouldn’t advocate for a raise.
When I worked in the non-profit sector, I often told people you don’t go into non-profit for the money. I feel the same way about being a politician. You run for office because you want to make a difference in your community, not because you want to make a boatload of money.
So, as I said on-air yesterday, when I was speaking with Tom, whether the consensus is that a regional councillor’s salary is too small or too large (or maybe it’s just right), fix the number and then implement the policy that it will be increased/decreased in future based on how everyone else in Niagara is doing. If that formula is to pay regional councillors 46.4% of the median household income in Niagara (which is what would keep the salary at its current level), then that’s the formula.
But it does need to be a formula and politicians have to lose the ability to vote for raises for themselves.
Promises made to date:
- Bring a motion to have regional councillors paid based on a formula and remove their ability to vote for raises for themselves