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Canadian Taxpayers Federation criticizes Calgary city council transition allowance

Calgary city council voted in favour of reducing the mayor's salary on Monday. File Photo / Global News

After four new faces were elected to Calgary city council, the four retiring or defeated members will get a $170,125 payday.

A transition allowance gives council members two weeks pay for each year of service, up to a maximum of 52 weeks.

Colin Craig, interim Alberta director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, calls the payouts a “golden goodbye cheque.”

READ MORE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi gets a pay cut, other recommendations overturned

He said Wednesday it’s not appropriate for taxpayers to pay someone for losing an election.

“If someone loses an election that’s similar to not getting their contract renewed, and on the other end, if a councillor decides to not run again it’s just not reasonable for them to get a goodbye cheque for deciding to quit,” he said.

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Councillor Andre Chabot will walk away with $52,346, while councillors Brian Pincott and Jim Stevenson will each receive $43,622. Councillor Richard Pootmans will get $30,535.

READ MORE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is ‘totally fine’ with a pay cut

The transition allowance is something a voluntary citizen compensation committee had hoped to get rid of, but in May city council rejected the idea. And it gave committee members a rough ride for daring to make such a suggestion.

“Elected officials right across the board struggle because they have political baggage, they have all kinds of baggage when they leave,” Pincott said at the time. “And part of a transition allowance is recognizing that and very few politicians, when they leave, are set up for immediate success.”

The compensation committee suggested a term of office was similar to an individual in the private sector who takes a four-year job and receives no payment at the end of the term. If a politician loses an election it’s like getting fired, with cause, in the private sector.

READ MORE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is ‘totally fine’ with a pay cut

Craig agrees and said politicians have plenty of time to prepare for life after politics.”When you’re elected to council you’re getting a huge perk, you’re getting a

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“When you’re elected to council, you’re getting a huge perk,” he said. “You’re getting a four-year iron clad contract, which is something a lot of people don’t have. They already have that perk, that job security for four years, and on top of that, to give them this perk is just not reasonable.”

In Edmonton, outgoing members of council receive three weeks pay for every year served, to a maximum of 36 weeks.