Mayor salary gets a bump, aldermen wage staying put
Council approves remuneration
City council voted to increase the mayor’s salary by 21 per cent on Sept. 3.
The increase is a jump from $70,000 to $85,000.
One third of the amount is a non-taxable expense allowance, plus an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) and a $400/month gas allowance for travel within Airdrie.
Remuneration committee members Cam Christianson and Shelley Bitz appeared before council to present their recommendations that will come into effect following the Oct. 21 municipal election.
The committee’s recommendations were first brought before council on June 17, with council choosing to go forward without any changes, citing some data inaccuracies and directing staff to report back in September with the corrected information.
“The committee expressed concerns with aldermanic remuneration remaining unchanged for seven years,” said Christianson. “The committee adjusted their original recommendation and requests that council consider an increase in aldermanic remuneration to 35 per cent of the mayor’s remuneration with a cost-of-living allowance being applied that mirrors the adjustment provided to staff annually.”
Deputy Mayor Allan Hunter was not on board with alderman salaries being tied to that of the mayor’s and felt even with the increase the mayor’s position was still underpaid.
“Whoever sits in that chair is now going to take four years of their life with no pension contributions and what I would consider to be a salary that is lower than what their job entails,” said Hunter.
Alderman Fred Burley agreed with Hunter that the mayor’s salary was too low and council had fallen behind in terms of keeping up with the growth of the city. He was concerned with the one-time 21 per cent increase and suggested it be spread over the four-year term, where the mayor would be earning $85,000 in year four of his or her term.
“To me, with times the way they are, it’s hard to do that 21 per cent increase all at once, I would prefer to see incremental increases,” said Burley.
Burley made a motion to approve an increase of 21 per cent, assigned incrementally over four years but was only supported by Alderman Kelly Hegg.
Alderman Glenda Alexander moved the remuneration be approved as it was presented, but not before council agreed that aldermanic remuneration be handled separately from that of the mayor’s.
Mayor Peter Brown said he considered abstaining from the vote but he added he felt the position warranted the increased salary.
“Even if I wasn’t running (for re-election) I would be fighting for the next person,” said Brown. “I think you want to attract the best possible talent that’s out there and I think that having the lower civic numbers throughout Canada has been the biggest mistake this country has ever made because you don’t attract the very best people.”
According to data compiled in 2012, the Airdrie’s mayor compensation is nearly the lowest when compared with other Albertan cities.
The mayor position in Medicine Hat, a city of approximately 61,000, pays $96,000. Grand Prairie, a city of around 55,000 had their mayor salary set at $87,750 in 2012. Rocky View County’s reeve made $84,655 in 2012 with a population of 38,055.
Council approved the committee’s recommendation, with Hegg and Burley voting in opposition.
A pair of motions were defeated for aldermanic remuneration. The first was that council maintain their current salary of $27,000 with a cost of living adjustment.
The motion was defeated with Hegg and Burley in favour.
Alexander brought forward a motion to approve the remuneration committee’s recommendation that alderman receive 35 per cent of the mayor’s remuneration ($29,750) along with a cost-of-living adjustment to mirror that which is provided to staff annually. The motion was defeated with only Alexander and Hunter voting in favour.
The salary for aldermen will remain status quo at $27,000 from 2014 to 2017 without any cost of living adjustments; of that $27,000, $9,000 is non-taxable travel/general expense allowance.