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Back  |  January 10, 2019  | 

Council's Salary Freeze

Back in December, my Notice of Motion (NOM) regarding freezing the Councillor base pay for 2019 at zero (2016 minus 2.49%, 2017- minus .08%) was discussed during the December 17th Council Meeting. Councillor remuneration base salary percentage may increase or decrease annually as per the Average Weekly Earnings of Alberta as reported by the Statistics Canada survey of Employment Payroll and Hours. This process was determined by an independent Council Remuneration Committee. At the time I submitted my NOM in November, the average was +2.6%. During Council, administration said the final number from Stats Canada was not yet in, but most likely will now be a negative number instead of the number depicted in my NOM.

As strange as it may sound, based on the new information from administration, if Council passed my motion to freeze Council’s pay it would actually be a vote for an increase. If Council simply left the system alone, the decrease would automatically kick in, and no Council vote is necessary. How did this become a story that Council voted for a pay increase?  Before I submitted my Notice of Motion and new information came to light, there was commitment from over 10 Councillors at the time, which means the intended pay freeze prior to the new information would have passed, as eight votes in favour is required normally.

So at no point was there any intention of Council accepting a pay raise. Administration is currently confirming the proper calculation and Councillor’s salaries are currently frozen until the final number, based on the Average Weekly Earnings of Alberta, comes out. If the number is an increase, Council will simply move to implement the freeze, and I will ask for a reconsideration of the NOM. If it is a decrease, then nothing needs to be done and the salary decrease will happen automatically.

I found it interesting during the Christmas break how many people asked me why Council voted for a raise and some quoted they heard a "30% increase" and "why did we get such large wage increases every year" I also heard the question "why don’t we cut the number of Councillors in half like Toronto did"?

The facts are detailed above - Council has had base salary decreases two years in a row.  Secondly, if you watch the Council video, the intent of accepting no increase is obvious.

In closing, here are some interesting factual numbers to reflect on:

1976- Number of Calgary Councillors - 14, Population of Calgary 470,040
1976- Number of MLAs in Calgary Ridings -13, Population of Calgary 470,040
2018- Number of Calgary Councillors-14, Population of Calgary 1,267,344
2018-Number of MLAs in Calgary Ridings-26, Population of Calgary 1,267,344
2018- Calgary- 14 Councillors - Average Ward population 90,524. Base Salary $113,416.36
2018-Edmonton-12 Councillors- Average Ward population 74,953. Base Salary $113,325.00
2018- Toronto - 25 Councillors- Average Ward population 109,280. Base Salary $112,000.00 ** after reduction of Council
2018-Calgary-26 MLAs-Average Riding population 48,744. Base Salary $127,000.00
2018- Calgary -10 MPs- Average Riding population 126,344. Base Salary $172,700.00

As you change orders of government, the number normally reduces, not increases. Toronto has the same number of MLAs as MPs, which is 25. Toronto’s population is 2,732,000, which is double that of Calgary.

In the next few months, we will have the provincial election. The question of whether it is necessary to have 26 MLAs in Calgary needs to be raised.

Ward Sutherland

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Categories: Budget; City Finances; Councillor; City Finances Blog

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.​