By Greg Price
Vauxhall town council has voted itself a pay increase, but is still on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to communities of like size. The issue was debated for a short time in council chambers at council’s Nov. 28 meeting.
“If there was any one thing that is low in my mind, it would be our hourly rate. From my perspective, that’s not very much per hour, but it doesn’t need to be a lot more,” said Richard Phillips, deputy mayor for the Town of Taber in opening up discussion on the topic. “One other way you can look at these rates is if they were good four years ago, there has been slight inflation since then. The other thing I would suggest is, to me, I almost feel guilty with the deputy mayor rate. I don’t think it does much more than a regular councillor and it’s not worth the difference.”
The previous council remuneration had the mayor making a $450 per month honourarium with the deputy mayor making $250 and councillors making $200. In addition to the monthly honourarium, elected officials also make $90 per regular council meeting and $90 per budget meeting. Committee of council meetings were paid $20 per hour, paid in 30-minute increments to a maximum of $200 per day. Council was able to look at comparisons with towns of similar sizes like Bentley (1,122), Falher (1,047), Eckville (1,125), Trochu (1,047), Smoky Lake (964), Legal (1,225) and Irricana (1,220) and found Vauxhall near the bottom for compensation in the eight-town comparison in every category.
“Just because of the lack of other councillors and willing people, I don’t think it hurts to bump up everything a little bit,” said councillor Kimberley Cawley. “The per council and budget meeting I think is fine, that’s plenty.”
“Certainly the fact that we have fewer people who have to sit on more committees, there is more time involved which can be reflected in the hourly rate,” added Phillips. “We certainly don’t want to be the highest rates (Among like-sized communities) and be over compensated. It’s always a tough decision when you are setting your own pay.”
CAO Cris Burns made the suggestion to raise the mayor rate to $500 per month from $450, the deputy rate staying at $250 and councillor rates being bumped to $250 from $200. Hourly rates of committee of council meetings would be increased to $25 from $20.
Council made a motion to increase the rates to Burns suggestion and was passed unanimously. Mayor Margaret Plumtree was absent from the meeting.