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Kingston city council ready to vote on potentially substantial pay raise

Click to play video: 'Kingston city council set to vote on a substantial pay increase for themselves' Kingston city council set to vote on a substantial pay increase for themselves
Citizen advisory group recommends the increase in a report to council and say tax changes make the increase almost revenue neutral – Apr 2, 2018

This week, Kingston city councillors and the mayor will potentially vote themselves a pay raise.

A citizens’ advisory committee has been studying council remuneration and has recommended substantial increases.

Councillors would see their pay increase by 32% to $41 000, while the mayor would receive a 22% increase to $116, 000 a year.

READ MORE: Port Coquitlam mayor’s pay was just hiked by $25,000. Here’s why that happened

Kingston’s mayor, Bryan Paterson, says the committee has been thoroughly interviewing councillors on issues like work load and pay in other cities.

“They can look at comparator municipalities and look at what pay rates are for mayors and councillors in other communities similar to Kingston,” Paterson said. “I think that’s the fairest way to do it.”

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Loyalist-Cataraqui Councillor Kevin George says Kingston politicians would be higher than communities of similar size.

“I’m not in favour of the increase,” George said. “When you look at our comparables, this is putting us about 22% above what our comparable communities are right now.”

“Like I said earlier: at the end of the day, I would hope people aren’t just doing this for the money. ”

The pay increase doesn’t include medical benefits council receives, along with travel and cell phone allowances.

For some area residents like Zach Bates, the substantial increase is unwarranted.

“These guys are not doing much of anything for this town and they want to get a raise for it,” Bates said. “I understand that. I just got a raise to $15 an hour, but that doesn’t mean they should get a raise, too.”

Barb Bentley feels differently, saying her councillor, Jeff McLaren, deserves what he makes.

“He always makes himself available on a regular basis if you need him, and I’d say he earns his salary. ”

Countryside councillor Gary Oosterhof says he questioned a council raise before the report, but says he has reconsidered his position.

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He hopes the increase will encourage residents to run for municipal office.

“They want to appeal to possibly the younger people to enter the community services like that,” Oosterhof said,  “so it’s something that’s behind it, too, that I supported in their thinking about it.”

Another argument made in the report for the pay increase is recent changes to tax law. One-third of municipal politicians’ pay used to be tax free.

READ MORE: Federal tax changes mean Edmonton councillors won’t get 1/3 of pay tax free

That’s no longer the case, and the authors say the pay increase is revenue-neutral when the tax change is taken into account.

The salary increase doesn’t come into effect until after the Kingston municipal election this fall.

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