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Sarnia councillors reject proposal to increase their own pay

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Cathy Dobson

A proposal supported by three Sarnia councillors to hire a consultant to review their pay was nixed recently by the rest of council.

Coun. Mike Stark initiated debate at the Oct. 25 meeting by saying many people suggest council’s compensation is exorbitant, but added, “I can assure you it is not.”

Stark said he spends 20 to 30 hours a week on municipal business, for which councillors receive $23,814.96 per year. The mayor earns $75,286.24 plus benefits and a car allowance.

“I want it on the record that it is important we compensate particularly business leaders who give up so much to sit on council,” Stark said.

He suggested leaving council’s pay unchanged for now but to hire an external consultant to review remuneration for the next council elected in 2022.

Mayor Mike Bradley disagreed.

“My advice to council is that this is not the time to be discussing remuneration,” he said. “When you look at what’s happening with the CRB (ending), when you look at what’s happening with the economy.”

Bradley suggested leaving it for the new council next year to deal with.

Ultimately, all eight members at the meeting, including Stark, voted to make no change to the current council’s pay. Coun. Nathan Colquhoun was absent.

In a separate vote, Stark and councillors Terry Burrell and Brian White voted in favour of hiring a consultant. That too was defeated.

In 2019, council struck a five-member committee to review remuneration one year prior to an election.

That committee’s report recommended councillors continue to receive an annual change in pay based on the Canadian Consumer Price Index.

It also looked at what municipalities of similar size pay elected officials and concluded Sarnia’s was comparable.

“Given the drop in real growth at the city since 2015, which impacts the community’s ability to pay, the committee does not recommend providing a salary adjustment at this time,” the report states.

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