Motion to Review Council Pay

At the next Council meeting, John Henderson will make a motion to establish an ad hoc committee to review Council remuneration.  He proposes that the committee consist of 7 citizens plus staff resources including HR.  The 7 citizens would come from the existing advisory committees.  There are more than 7 committees but presumably John means the seven that advise on policy (see list below).  There are two reasons to review pay to Councillors: 1) The Federal tax law was recently changed so that 100% of pay is taxable instead of one third being classed as an allowance and tax exempt; 2) The last review was in 2011 when an increase of 13% was approved for Councillors.  Note that remuneration is increased annually with a CPI adjustment.  The intent is that an increase would be effective 1 December 2018 for the next Council.

Pay to Councillors is reported annually and the last report was in September 2017 for pay in 2016.  A post at that time (link below) included the following table showing pay in 2016.

   Mayor Deputy Mayor Councillor
Council $34,700 $21,200 $17,000
County $46,300 (as Warden)
$9,400 (as Cobourg Rep.)
Police Board $4,900   $4,900
Holdco $6,200    
GRCA     $2,500 (est.)
Health Board $500 (est.)    
Total $92,600 (as Warden)
$21,200 $21,900 (Police Bd)
$19,500 (GRCA)

The motion asks that the committee make recommendations on:

  • What is expected of a Councillor – that is, what they should do.
  • Responsibility Level
  • Look at remuneration at other comparable Councils
  • Compensation to Police Service Board members
Photo at 1867 re-enactment. L-r: Brian Darling, John Henderson, Suzanne Seguin, Gil Brocanier, Forrest Rowden, Aaron Burchat, Debra McCarthy
Photo at 1867 re-enactment. L-r: Brian Darling, John Henderson, Suzanne Seguin, Gil Brocanier, Forrest Rowden, Aaron Burchat, Debra McCarthy

John wants the report completed in time to present at the April 30th Council meeting.

It’s clear that the time commitment of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors is significantly more than just Council meetings.  They also attend committee meetings and many public events – their municipal job is close to full-time.  The current occupation status of Councillors (using publicly available information) is:

  • Mayor Gil Brocanier – Retired
  • Deputy Mayor John Henderson – Retired
  • Councillor Brian Darling – Retired
  • Councillor Debra McCarthy – part time employed
  • Councillor Forrest Rowden – Retired
  • Councillor Aaron Burchat – Full time employed – transitioning to co-owner of retail business
  • Councillor Suzanne Séguin – Co-owner of publishing business

Current nearby Council Pay – all are 7 member Councils

  Cobourg 2016 Port Hope 2018 (1) Brighton 2015 (2)
Mayor $34,700 $48,400 $34,800
Deputy Mayor $21,200 $26,000 $22,900
Councillors $17,000 $20,000 $21,000


  1. Effective December 1, 2018
  2. Includes approx. $6K meeting allowance – total for Councillors is average.

Even with an increase of 30%, the pay for Councillors in Cobourg would still not equal a full time job on minimum pay.

Info and Links

  1. Cobourg Economic Development Advisory Committee 
  2. Cobourg Accessibility Advisory Committee
  3. Cobourg Planning And Sustainability Advisory Committee 
  4. Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee 
  5. Cobourg Environmental Active Transportation Advisory Committee 
  6. Cobourg Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee 
  7. Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee 

Update – January 15

At its regular meeting on January 15, Council passed the bylaw implementing the above with no discussion.


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6 years ago

The people that ran for office knew and understood the pay package that was offered. Seems to me most private companies these days give their employees a cost of living % increase most years…should be good enough for our politicians as well.

Walter Luedtke
6 years ago

As it is the case in Cobourg, it seems probable that many municipal politicians in Ontario are retirees.
That means they have sources of income other than their municipal stipend.
It also means that it would be very difficult for anyone who still needs to earn a living to serve effectively as a Mayor or Councillor.
In Cobourg, 41 municipal employees earn more more than $100,000 per annum.
Perhaps paying our Mayor and Councillors something close to or above the ‘Sunshine’ line, would broaden the base of people willing and able to offer their talents for public service.

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
6 years ago

Great idea! We can just raise taxes to pay for this.
Bigger paydays to get bigger brains has worked at other levels of government, right?

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
6 years ago

I assume that you realize that all except 5 of the 41 earning over $100K are part of protection services. A junior police officer is obviously worth more than a Councillor!

6 years ago

Disjointed thoughts:
I would like to see if this committee has the courage to state that the average councillor, never mind the Mayor and DM puts in a full week, or near to it, or should if, they do the job properly.

With this in mind would they also have the courage to admit that seven full time councillors are too many.

Perhaps with a proper workload study this committee could rebalance and redesign but I have my doubts.

Two choices before them – move to a smaller council of fulltime people, so that a higher pay could be justified, or restore representation to the citizens by cutting the workload and spreading it among more real part-timers and increase the number of councillors ensuring a diversity of opinion as opposed to a small number of ‘efficiency experts’!

Reply to  ben
6 years ago

Just as long showing up for needless photo opps events is not included in the ‘workload” study.

Reply to  ben
6 years ago

Ben – I’m wondering who could possibly run for Council or Mayor if the expectation is a full time work load? It would look very similar to the Council of yesteryear busting at the seams with retired teachers. I love teachers – however I think to have a chance at getting new ideas, current thinkers it’s critical to inject people out of business on Council.

Reply to  Ewok
6 years ago

That’s why we should be looking at increasing the number of part timers to spread the load. Sometimes less is not so efficient.

Reply to  ben
6 years ago

Need to move meeting times and the times in which the committees meet…

Reply to  Ewok
6 years ago

They have already tried that Council now meets at 4pm – are there any evening meetings left – I doubt it. Only the retired can make these meetings and the staff love not having to come back at night.