County Councillors to Get Pay Increase

With an election due in October, Cobourg Council recently went through a long process to review Council Salaries but finally decided to reject the Ad Hoc Committee recommendations and approved significant increases.  Now the County is recommending increases too.  They have not appointed a citizen committee but instead Staff are making recommendations at the County Council meeting on July 18 and the increases will be substantial.  Since the county councillors are in fact the Mayors of each of the constituent municipalities, the total salary for Cobourg’s Mayor will be significantly higher in 2019 than in 2018.  Other provisions of the proposed new bylaw include an annual CPI adjustment, an increase in allowed expenses for conferences and an implementation of the Federal law eliminating the tax-free status of one-third of their salary.

Northumberland County Building
Northumberland County Building

As well as a salary, county councillors currently also get payment for attending County Department meetings and other meetings.  This is $100 per meeting under 3.5 hours and $200 for meetings over 3.5 hours.  The new bylaw will change this to a flat $100.  Expenses for Conventions are now limited to $2,500 but this will be increased to $4,000.  Mileage is also reimbursed at 0.55c/km

The last review of salaries was in 2015 – the new bylaw would mandate reviews every 4 years

The methodology used to decide on the increase was to look at comparable municipalities, namely: Lanark County, United Counties of Prescott & Russell, County of Lennox & Addington, and Renfrew County.  The first thing to note is that they also pay a “per diem” ranging from $150 to $210 which I assume is comparable to Northumberland County’s $100-$200 per meeting.   Then the 60th percentile is calculated and equals $18,347 for a Councillor and $45,477 for the Warden with $180 per meeting.

Another factor is the removal of the tax exemption for one-third of their salary – for a typical case, the net effect of the 2015 decision, CPI adjustments, tax exemption and attendance at meetings is shown in this table:

  Current Annual Net Remuneration (1/3 tax exempt) 2019 Annual Net Remuneration (100% taxable & if salaries not changed)
Warden (attendance at Council & 9 meetings/month) $40,168.64 $35,872.32
Councillor (attendance at Council & 3 meetings/month) $10,650.48 $ 9,726.48

The recommendation by Staff is that the Councillors’ salaries be increased to $18,347 (from $9,678) and the Warden’s to $45,477 (from $37,706) and that meeting remuneration be changed to a flat rate of $100 per meeting.  By my calculation, that’s a 90% increase for Councillors and 21% for the Warden.

Given that Cobourg’s Mayor will get a salary of  $40,440 in 2019, his total expected compensation (before tax) will be $40,440 (Cobourg Mayor) + $18,347 (County Councillor) + $3,600 (county meetings) = $62,387.  If he were Warden, it would increase to $96,717. That’s still nowhere near the salary of the CAO ($179K) but would certainly be a full-time job. (Note that there are also other payments for other jobs of the Mayor – another $12K in 2016).


Update – July 18, 4:12 p.m.

At their meeting this morning, County Council approved the recommendations discussed above.  The changes will be effective “at the beginning of the new term of Council in December, 2018”.

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Miriam Mutton
5 years ago

In 2017 the per diem payment averaged just over $3900 per member of County Council. Not insignificant when added to the base pay amount of $18,347.

And, given the expressed workload … is it time upper tier Council become elected rather than appointed i.e. now, the Mayors automatically become the County Councillor? Local or lower tier Council Mayors already have full time workloads in their own communities. The governance model would need investigation. Perhaps, for example, the Deputy Mayor position of respective municipalities would become the County Council representative and the responsibility for municipal budgets shifted to the entire Council of the Whole at the local municipal level. This may mean an extra meeting (monthly?) for the entire local Council just to discuss the budget and other general government matters now resting within the General Government portfolio.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 years ago

I agree with your suggestion that County Council should be elected. This is the model used in York region and numerous other upper tier (tier 1) government. In York for example, any candidate for local council can also run for a “regional councillor”.

As an alternate, council should appoint (elect) a member of council best suited (and interested) for the job. It should not go to the Mayor or any other seat by default.

In regards to other default appointments such as police board, HOLDCO/LUI and the Town’s budget chief, I suggest that the portfolio should go to the most qualified council member (by council election/appointment) rather than a default seat. For the budget, there could also be a “finance committee” to help spread the workload, consisting of the “budget chief” and two other members of council. An alternate model would be to have a finance advisory committee.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 years ago

It has been a concern of mine for many years that County Council members are chosen so haphazardly, especially now that so many issues of critical importance have become the County’s responsibility.

As an example, housing and homelessness become the lower tier’s headache when the County seems content to do little beyond writing studies. I want to see Councillors chosen for the County Council who not only care about people at risk of living on the streets, but have a plan to solve this ever growing problem. I want a system where the people representing us at the County level are knowledgeable and accountable for the issues on their plates.

This is about much more than the size of their paycheques, it’s about the quality of their efforts and how, as voters, we need to know the policies they will put in to action if elected.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
5 years ago

Agreed and sensible.
County Council should look and act a lot more like a regional government, rather than a collection of municipalities with their own agendas.

5 years ago

It seems like a “real deal” regarding the County salary increases…now the staff will surely get an even higher income soon. It was only about 3 yrs or so ago when the Warden at the time, the Cobourg Mayor, stated that the County is “the place to go” for a career while was promoting their salary increase. Can you imagine ANY tax -payer organization (with it non-competitive work) being the highest paid group in the area? Just amazing!!!

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Doggie
5 years ago

Or freely invented like most of the stuff posted by the CTA folks on these pages?
Seems to me that the alt-right is trying to undermine public trust in our democratic institutions through anonymous social media postings.
One has to wonder why.

Fact Checker
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

I agree with you Walter that Doggie’s comments are without foundation and calling BS is fair game.

However, you diminish your argument and yourself by spouting off about the CTA with no evidence whatever. In that regard you are guilty of the same transgression as you accuse Doggie.
Give us some examples of “freely invented stuff posted by the CTA folks”
Except for the rare occasion, your posts contain few if any supportable facts. Instead, you choose to play “shoot the messenger”…cheap and intellectually dishonest.
You have demonstrated that you have the intelligence and ability to provide positive constructive commentary. It baffles me that you choose to not do so.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Fact Checker
5 years ago

I believe that behaviour falls into the category of attention seeking due to lack of self confidence ,unless I’m mistaken.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Fact Checker
5 years ago

Laughs. You baffle easy!
Let’s take one of your posts as example – may I quote?
“A vote against the floating water-park (a monument to managerial incompetence). Fortunately, as fate and dumb luck would have it, the floating water-park has been “delayed”. So also have the serious accidents and lawsuits that will surely come with this “gift” to the Town.
Kid in critical condition in an elite Toronto hospital after an accident on Barrie’s floating water-park. Can the lawyers be far away?
In the UK, 10,000 serious accidents per year involving similar equipment.
And let us not forget the thirty pieces of silver.”
Item: ‘monumental managerial incompetence’ – no evidence, just a fistful of mud.
Item: ‘the Kid’ – no evidence of an accident – the child was in ‘medical distress’ and has fully recovered
Item: 10,000 SERIOUS accidents PER YEAR in the UK – no source given, so freely invented.
Item: “30 pieces of silver’ Judas was bribed to betray Jesus, but I think you are talking about the here and now. So who was bribing whom to betray whom with regard to the water park. Just another fistful of mud.
Bang! I just shot your message, not you.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

I have no idea who the “alt-right” is. Perhaps you would like to provide more accurate terms.

There is no need to rely on social media postings to undermine confidence in institutions such as County Council, the Police Services Board and many current Cobourg Councillors. They are amply capable of undermining confidence by their own actions.

5 years ago

Four meetings a month and these double dippers want a raise??????

5 years ago

Sound like Staff & Council are or will be scratching each others backs.

Reply to  cornbread
5 years ago

Do you have any evidence of collusion between County Council and County Staff in this matter or is this just another one of your fact-free smears.

Reply to  Albert
5 years ago

Cornbread probably does not have any evidence BUT reciprocity is a well ingrained methodology in business and government. Evidence not withstanding these % hikes are excessive and not in line with inflation and / or cost of living (certainly for the Northumberland region). Based on the %’s alone I’m against the increases. Further, assuming reciprocity, Staffers both within Cobourg and County would be expecting a substantive increase in their own pay packets.