Councillors in the City of Dieppe have voted in favour of increasing their salaries in the new year.
The municipality has a six-year plan — divided into two separate bylaws — which would see the mayor making more than double the current salary by 2024.
The first increase, set to take effect on Jan. 1, is needed as a result of tax changes being made by the federal government, according to Mayor Yvon Lapierre.
He says as a result of taxing one-third of municipal salaries, the first increase would make up for what would be lost.
The mayor in Dieppe currently makes $35,825, while a councillor makes $16,800 annually. The changes would see the mayor’s salary increase to $47,875, while the salary of a councillor would rise to $19,150.
Geoff Martin, an assistant political science professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., says to avoid controversy, councillors should have waited to implement the increases.
“I think a year or 18 months is not really too long to wait to implement changes for the next council to reflect the new situation with the federal tax system.”
He says councils generally vote in favour of wage hikes for an incoming council, not current members.
The next municipal election is slated for 2020.
The second bylaw which councillors voted in favour of is a five-year plan. The mayor’s salary would rise to $78,000, while councillors would be making $31,200 in 2024.
Councillors Daniel Allain and Lise LeBouthillier voted against the changes.
Mayor Lapierre says, “there will always be opposition,” to politicians increasing their own wages.
He adds if frustration among residents leads to a new council being elected, he hopes the new council would set the salaries back to what they are now.
While acknowledging the city has seen dramatic increases to population and municipal responsibility, Martin says the timing of the move is still concerning.
“I still think it’s rather hazardous, politically, for mayor and council to implement those decisions right away.”
Meanwhile, representing the largest municipality in the tri-community, Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold, is making $85,662 in 2018.
The recommendations for increases were proposed by a council-appointed, citizens working group, who presented the recommendations in October.
Lapierre says a point system was used, based on Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick guidelines.
“The size of the population, the size of the budget, three, the type of services that you offer as a municipality,” he says. “And the type of infrastructure that you’re responsible for.”
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Lapierre says taxes are expected to hold steady for at least three years.
The increases are to receive final reading at the next council meeting in December.