The incoming mayor and council will get a pay raise.
Council agreed Monday night to recommendations of the Council Remuneration Committee to increase the mayor's salary from the current rate of $23,695 to $26,689 in 2019 while the deputy mayor's pay will increase from $13,908.04 to $15,665.
The councillor salary will go from $12,362.70 to $13,925.
The committee, comprised of Mayor Roy Avis, Couns. Ken Perry, Paul Ryan, and June Caul, along with town CAO Doug Brown, treasurer Laurie Lindberg, and human resources co-ordinator Jordan Forbes, reviewed the current council remuneration practice of the town as well as that of comparable municipalities in the region.
“It was determined that our current remuneration practice is fair based on the size of the municipality and the practices of similar communities in our area,” Forbes noted in a report to council.
However, due to the likely implementation of a new federal tax policy that would remove the tax-exempt status of one-third of a councillor's income, the committee recommended “a commensurate increase in compensation be provided to offset the financial loss incurred by councillors as a result of having to pay taxes on this portion of their income,” he explained.
The committee also recommended future annual increases in council remuneration be aligned with any management/non-union pay hikes.
For example, if management/non-union staff were to receive a 0.5 percent increase, then council would receive 0.5 percent hike, as well, noted Forbes.
If the proposed tax policy change does not come into effect, then council remuneration simply would be tied to any change in management/non-union compensation.
Another change to remuneration is that council must give its approval if there's to be more than one council representative serving on the executives of municipal lobby groups such as the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA).
Right now, Coun. Wendy Brunetta is one of two Rainy River District representatives on the NOMA board of directors, along with Rainy River Coun. Gord Armstrong.
Meanwhile, Coun. Perry, who is president of the Rainy River District Municipal Association, represents the RRDMA as executive vice-president to the NOMA board.
Coun. Caul said Monday night that having one “person is enough from the town, and if the case happens again, where someone else is interested on being one of those out-of-town executive committees of any kind, then they need to bring it to council.”
Coun. Brunetta clarified there has been changes made at the RRDMA as to how the town is reimbursed.
“It's usually a day-and-a-half per diem, which right now is $280 the town pays for the second person,” she noted.
“RRDMA reimburses you for $100 so it's actually $180 per meeting that you're paying.”
The next municipal election is slated for Oct. 22.
The new term of council will begin Dec. 1, 2018 and conclude Nov. 22, 2022.
Meanwhile, council took time to recognize “Borderland Pride Week” during its meeting Monday night.
“I just wanted to give a shout-out to Borderland Pride for their dedication to reminding everyone how important it is to be your own person, and to be proud of yourself in all that you are and all that you do,” said Coun. Caul.
“Though we may be diverse in our race, culture, religious beliefs, colour, or sexual orientation, we all breath the same air, feel happy or sad, feel brave or feel afraid,” she noted.
“We love or want to be loved," Coun. Caul added. ”As the teaching goes, do unto others the way you want them to do unto you.
“We all deserve respect and equality.”
Coun. Caul noted “Borderland Pride Week" activities are going on all this week, including a cross-border "Pride March” on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Smokey Bear Park in International Falls and ending with a flag ceremony at 11:15 a.m. at the Civic Centre here.
This will be followed by a barbecue at the new Rainy Lake Square.
For more information on this week's activities, check out the “Summer Fun Finder” special section inserted with today's Times.