Tuesday, October 10, 2006

E Day - 34

Burlington Council report CL –13-06 recommended a change in the compensation of councillors, a small increase in expenses, and reconfirms the existing formula used to make annual adjustments to salaries should be based on the Consumer Price Index.

Council approved this report on October 10th. Beginning December 1 the Mayor will make $149,168 up from $142,704. Councillors go to $87,168 from $84,311.

The Citizens Committee on Council Responsibilities and Compensation did the research and came back with a recommendation that was in line with what other municipalities – particularly two tiered municipalities - paid.

No problem with the Citizen’s Committee work here. Such committees are invaluable in objectively looking at council compensation matters and avoiding those messy debates where politicians argue over what they are worth. (It must be noted that the pols self assessments are often at odds with public perceptions.)

The section of the report entitled “Administrative Resources” is another matter.

Overall Council expenses continue to grow.

Burlington Council is drifting towards a situation where each Councillor will have his/her own assistant. Right now two Councillors share an assistant. There are two additional reception staff. That’s five staff in total. The public spends $911,843 or $6.20 per constituent on Council.

In 1996 the then seventeen member Burlington council voted (nine in favour eight against) to shrink the council to seven. In those days 16 Councillors shared one staff person. Some argued at the time that this change would lead to spiralling costs and big city type full time politicians.

In ten years much has changed. The City is evolving from suburban to urban. Citizens expect a big commitment from their small now full time council. Those councillors work hard.

But still is this the direction we wanted to go in 1996? More Councillors with smaller wards is preferred to continued growth of staff in Council offices. Adding politicians who are, theoretically at least, responsible to the public should be a consideration for the new Council.

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