I BELIEVE IN SPREADING THE WEALTH .
THE PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES OF HRM PAY TAXES TO THE CITY, WHICH FUND THE SALARIES OF THE MAYOR, COUNCIL AND STAFF.
THE LOSSES OF THE PEOPLE WILL BE THE LOSSES OF THE CITY.
AND THE SACRIFICES — OR LACK THEREOF — OF THE MAYOR, COUNCIL AND STAFF WILL BE REMEMBERED. . ."
- Gail Lethbridge
LOCALIZE COUNCIL SALARY FORMULA
IN 2016, a motion was put forth by the Halifax appointed Regional Council Compensation Committee to freeze Councillor wages, and alter the formula their salaries were based off of. The Committee believed the then-used formula was flawed, and Council salaries were too high when compared to the average Haligonian income.
The report came from a specially created independent committee that spent most of 2015 studying council’s pay structure. Along with proposed changes to pensions and creating severance pay for councillors, the report recommended altering the system used to calculate compensation by basing salaries off the average annual earnings of a full-time working HRM resident. READ FULL REPORT
The debate among our Council reportedly got quite heated, and in the end the motion was defeated. The final vote was 7 for the recommendations, and 8 against them... One year later, Regional Council announced they would replace the formula their salary was based off of - but not the formula the RCCC had recommended a year prior.
Instead, the new formula change resulted in yet another salary increase for Regional Council and the Council’s biggest pay raise since 2011....
The Regional Compensation Committee outlined a few moral philosophies that guided their report. Here are a few mentioned I strongly agree with:
Council Compensation should be reflective of the local economy
The way compensation is calculated should be simple + easily understood by the public
Council pay shouldn’t be at a level to incentivize elected officials solely for financial gain
The system of compensation must be fair + reasonable to attract high-quality candidates while ensuring it is fiscally responsible to tax-payers
In order to address our ever-increasing wealth gap in HRM, I think this report should be revisited and its recommendations implemented.
COUNCIL SALARY FREEZE UNTIL ATLEAST 2023
In June, Halifax Regional Council voted to freeze their salaries until November 2021. As your Councillor, I’d push to extend the freeze until 2023. I do not believe one year is enough time for HRM to experience economic recovery, and raising Council salaries should not be discussed until this occurs.
Even then, the 2016 Halifax Regional Council Compensations Committee's report concluded the Municipalities economic state did not justify the 2016 salary amount - which has increased since. This is what a salary freeze would’ve looked like in 2016, with salary figures based on the RCCC’s proposed localized formula:
I don’t want to lower Council salaries... I just don’t want them to go up anymore based on the new formula, which I believe is still flawed. I’d like to see the calculation changed to reflect the local economy, as per the Halifax Regional Council Compensations Committee's 2016 recommendation. If this occurred, I'd want to freeze Council salaries until the amounts equalled up with the localized salary formula. At the end of the day though, that is the collaborative decision of our future council, so I can't make any promises as in individual in this regard.
VOLUNTARY PAY CUTS
If elected your Councillor I would follow the Mayor’s lead and take a 20% pay cut, but unlike the Mayor I would absolutely encourage any other * high earning * municipal employees who are able to, to do the same. I believe in spreading the wealth, and I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation right now where I don’t need to make $92,000 a year. If all of us do what we can right now, then maybe all of us can make it through this, and become a better Municipality for it overall.
Months ago, I read a piece in the Chronicle Herald by Gail Lethbridge discussing the Mayor's voluntary pay cut. This article was a motivator in my own desire to take a voluntary pay cut. Please read a segment of it below:
Allow me to offer an alternative scenario for the rollout of these layoffs and budgetary management during this crisis.
The mayor and his council might have met before layoffs and agreed to a 20 per cent salary reduction. Technically, they are not allowed to take a salary cut but the mayor has shown there are ways to defer and donate back to the city. This would go a long way to establishing unity and moral authority in moving forward with layoffs. Those who did not agree to this measure could explain this to laid off workers and taxpayers.
The next step would be to prepare a series of options for all full-time staff, with the exception of essential workers and those earning under, say, $40,000. Under this proposal, city staff could be offered choices, representing a 20 per cent rollback across the board. The first would be a four-day work week. Another option might be a holiday buy-back in which staff can take unpaid time off, with the cost being spread out over the rest of the year. Staff could also be offered an unpaid sabbatical of, say, three months, addressing the needs of staff caring for and schooling children at home. Expedited early retirements could be another possibility.
IS ANY OF THIS IDEAL? OF COURSE NOT. WE ARE HARDLY LIVING IN IDEAL TIMES HERE.
If this strategy spreads the sacrifice around the organization and creates a buffer around essential services, it might be worth considering. It might also reduce or delay future layoffs and show solidarity with taxpayers, many of whom are out of work. My point is that voluntary sacrifice by the mayor should not be shimmering with the sheen of charity and goodwill in a time of crisis.He and council need to muck in with laid-off staff, small businesses and everyone else facing financial hardship. These people don’t have the luxury of voluntary income reductions.
People and businesses pay taxes to the city, which fund the salaries of the mayor, council and staff. The losses of these people will be the losses of the city. And the sacrifices — or lack thereof — of the mayor, council and staff will be remembered.