Pay increases that will kick in after this fall’s municipal elections have been approved for Grande Prairie’s Mayor and Council. Councillors will be paid $55,000 a year. The Mayor’s salary will go up by $11,000 to make up for the federal government doing away with a tax exemption on one third of the salaries paid to municipal politicians.
Councillor Helen Rice cast one of three votes against the pay hike for councillors, calling it too dramatic.
“We’ve had a tough economy all across Alberta and certainly in Grande Prairie and, while I agree that an increase would help to attract new council members, I just don’t think the increase needed to be that large.”
Councillors Jackie Clayton and Dwight Logan also voted no.
Rice says she might have been able to support a smaller pay hike.
“I could have accepted $10,000 less, that would then split what council is making now, plus what is going to be lost through the change in federal legislation.”
Current Mayor Bill Given thinks that, while it’s unlikely someone runs for council to get a job, low pay could prevent good candidates from running.
“Historically, we have seen that very few young people run for council, this council being an exception and, in the past, it has been something that either older, retired people would do or people that are well-off enough that they can afford to do that. Both of those perspectives are useful and valid on council,” he says, adding, “We want to ensure that serving on council is an opportunity that’s accessible to anybody that feels they have something to contribute. So, my hope is that we’ll see a wide and diverse field of candidates.”
Council has voted to bring in the elimination of the one third exemption this fall, when the raises kick in, even though the federal government does not require this be scrapped until 2019. Given says this means the next council won’t have to vote on its own salary.