New Calgary Councillor Jeromy Farkas turns down some perks of the job
One of the new members of Calgary city council is declining some of his new benefits.
Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas posted on Facebook Wednesday that he is opting out of the pension as well as the transition allowance given to council members when they leave office.
Farkas said if he serves two terms, as he has pledged, he’d be eligible for more than $500,000 in benefits. He said given the choice of all or nothing, he chose to do what he thought was best.
“I’m, again, the youngest councillor elected in a generation,” he told News Talk 770. “I don’t have a family to take care of. I have a lot more time to earn an income and prepare privately.”
He said in his Facebook post that “because I was elected so early in life, taxpayers would have contributed more than $5 for every dollar that I put in.”
Farkas said public sector compensation should be competitive with the private sector.
He added that as council enters major union and budget talks, nothing should be off the table to reduce costs.
“I think elected office should be a service, it shouldn’t be a career,” he said. “I was very clear throughout the campaign that I wasn’t intending to take the transition allowance.”
“I wanted to lead by example: do something to help change the tone and to think a little bit more creatively about how we can address these issues in the long term.”
LISTEN: Canadian Taxpayers Federation interim director Colin Craig on Jeromy Farkas’ decision to opt out of his pension and transition allowance
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) applauded the announcement and hopes other council members follow suit.
“Councillor Farkas has demonstrated an immense amount of principle by refusing to accept council’s golden pension and transition payments,” CTF interim Alberta director Colin Craig said.
“We hope other council members follow his lead or act to scale back council’s golden perks.”
The CTF has been drawing attention to council benefits since last month when it pointed out that for every $1.1 million dollars council members contributed to their pensions, taxpayers paid over $6.1 million between 2007 and 2016.
Farkas said he won’t fault other councillors who choose not to follow his lead.
“At the end of the day, it is important for all our decision-makers to be well compensated,” he said. “We want to make sure that it’s competitive so that we have a good mix of talent applying for these jobs – whether it’s in the senior management at the city, whether it’s running for council itself.”
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