ALTER COUNCIL SALARY FORMULA
MUNICIPAL COMPENSATION REVIEW
EXTEND COUNCIL SALARY FREEZE
MUNICIPAL LOBBYIST REGISTRY
PURSUE NEW MUNICIPAL REVENUES
MUNICIPAL COMPENSATION REVIEW
RE-ALLOCATE POLICE FUNDING
AVOID FRIVOLOUS SPENDING
COVID-19 AND ITS FALLOUT
WE CAN SPEND OUR MONEY SMARTER + NOW IS THE TIME.
- 82% of HRM's BUDGET COMES FROM PROPERTY TAXES, THIS YEAR MANY PEOPLE WERE UNABLE TO PAY
- BEFORE 2020 THE HOSPITALITY + TOURISM INDUSTRY GENERATED OVER ONE BILLION IN DIRECT SPENDING EACH YEAR
+ AND EMPLOYED 23,000 HALIGONIANS IN OVER 4,000 BUSINESSES
- 75% OF THE DOWNTOWN WORKFORCE IS EITHER WORING FROM HOME OR NOT WORKING AT ALL
+ ONLY 10% OF MUNICIPAL OFFICE EMPLOYEES HAVE RETURNED TO THEIR PLACE OF WORK
+ WORSENING THE FINANCIAL IMPACT ON BUSINESS THAT DEPENDED ON THE WORKFORCE FOR DAY TRAFFIC AND SALES
- EVERY DAY SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ARE CLOSING UP SHOP, WHILE THOSE STILL OPEN FACE A HARD WINTER
- EVERY NIGHT MORE HALIGONIANS ARE FORCED TO SLEEP ON THE STREET AS RENTS RISE AND OUR INCOME STAYS THE SAME
THE WORKING CLASS OF HRM - THE YOUNG, THE UNEDUCATED, AND THE UNDERPAID - WILL SEE THE WORST OF THIS PANDEMIC. WEALTH INEQUALITY AFFECTS ALL OF US, AND COVID-19 HAS FURTHER WIDENED THE GAP. IF WE CONTINUE DOWN THE PATH WE ARE ON HALIFAX WILL SOON BECOME A PLACE MOST NOVA SCOTIANS WONT BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO LIVE.
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 the last year 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.
However, 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.
Gail Lethbridge put it best, "
EXAMINE POLICE BUDGETING
More than ever, each dollar we spend must make life better for all Haligonians.
"Defunding the Police" does not mean expecting police to do the same job with less resources. It means lessening the demands on police by removing roles that should be performed elsewhere. Yes, I believe our police budget should be reduced, but there must be a methodology to it. How Much we budget for policing is just as important as what and who the police spend our money on.
If Regional Council does support lowering the Halifax Police budget, then we must be diligent in forming a review process as to how cuts would be implemented. Not every police initiative is given the same value, and this is reflected in what happens when budget cuts are forced upon the department.
El Jones - whom the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners appointed to define "defunding the police" - recently wrote a piece in the Halifax Examiner, that discussed how different police budgets were disproportionatly cut during COVID-19 budget reductions. The Halifax police department's victim services budget and lie detector budget were about the same ( approx $260,000 ) ; when faced with a requirement to cut costs, the department slashed the victim services budget by fifty thousand dollars, but the lie detector budget only by three hundred dollars...
So it's not just about lessening what we spend on policing, but also making sure what we do budget is being spent effectively.
COMMUNITY PEACE FORCE
"The key objective of a Municipal Bylaw Enforcement and Community Peace Officer Program is to provide cost-effective and efficient policing to the community while providing a wide range of enforcement services under one umbrella.
Since the mid-1980s, the Medicine Hat Police Service in Alberta has employed community peace officers to enforce bylaws and assist with policing. This initiative has been successful in coordinating improved enforcement of bylaws and reducing overall costs to the municipality. Financial savings are achieved through reduced administration costs, shared records management and shared support services. The program makes the Medicine Hat Police Service a one-stop enforcement agency that carries out all policing duties, including bylaw enforcement. This has proven to be a more efficient model for Medicine Hat. A community survey indicated that this initiative has also led to increased client satisfaction."
- Public Safety Canada
To read more on my feelings about Policing in Halifax > RE-IMAGINE POLICING
A LIVING WAGE + SALARY
"Someone making $12 an hour is someone with two or three jobs. It’s someone who lives hand-to-mouth, who has no financial security, is a pay cheque away from disaster. It’s someone whose life collapses if they have to take off work to tend to a sick kid."
The people working to improve this city deserve a roof over their head and three meals a day. Everyone deserves that, and in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, any full time employee should be able to afford it. A living wage will circulate itself back into the economy by increasing local spending and tax revenues. As the largest urban centre of the maritimes, this municipality has a responsibility to lead the way.
Halifax Regional Council just took a great step towards mandating a living wage within the municipality, by requiring all municipal contractors to pay a living wage. There were some exemptions though, including “students, interns and practicum placements for summer projects.” I am not satisfied with this.
The above mentioned may be seen as "temporary" workers, but often their hours are full-time, and summer is their sole opportunity to tackle incurred student debt. Most obviously, they still live here, they still pay rent here, and they definitely have debts they're trying to manage. How are we setting up our young adults for success by opening a window for our contractors to exploit their labour? This amendment should be revoked.
There are full time staff on the municipal payroll that make below a living wage, and to me thats not acceptable if HRM expects as much from its contractors. HRM laid off 1,500 municipal employees part time and temporary employees after COVID-19. Of the 1000 people who work in the downtown core, only about 100 have returned to their regular place of work. In times like these, layoffs were inevitable, I realize that. However, I think there was more the Municipality could have done to lessen the financial burden on its people.
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.