While serving on past Beaumont councils, Mr. Fred Davis and I often agreed to disagree on several issues, but in his Nov. 30 letter to this paper he makes some valid points regarding mayor and council remuneration.
Beaumont council has traditionally voted themselves the same cost of living wage increase given to town employees each year, however a consultant hired in 2016 to review this subject found Beaumont’s elected officials were being paid approximately ¼ the rate of their counterparts in similar municipalities, including those named by Mr. Davis in his letter.
The consultant looked at total compensation (salary plus allowances and benefits), not just population size. Direct comparisons to Leduc and Spruce Grove were not made due to their higher populations (the consultant used lower, weighted numbers for those cities).
The previous council did approve a wage increase to take effect after the 2017 election which would bring Beaumont’s elected officials in line with the average salaries paid to elected officials of comparable municipalities. The previous council also approved a stipend for the councillor acting as deputy mayor, and to continue with a part time mayor. Significantly, that council also agreed not to revisit the subject of elected official remuneration again until 2020, the third year of the current mandate.
Now, one year after the election, and after having their salaries increased substantially by the previous council, this council decides they need a further increase that more than doubles their wages over a two year period! Has anyone else reading this letter received similar largesse from their employer… if indeed they are employed these days? And our mayor, who stated during the election debates that he could handle the job on a part time basis, now decides that the work is too much unless it comes with a six-figure salary!
The duties of these elected officials have certainly not doubled over the last two years, in fact they have not increased substantially at all since I served on council. Elected officials certainly do deserve fair compensation for the hours they should be putting in (not all of them attend all their meetings and obligations), and the decision to make the mayor a full time position is one that I have argued for in the past. However, to return to the public trough one year after a substantial salary increase to double their wages over two years does not pass the smell test, and the odour is pork!