April 16, 2019 4:22 pm
Updated: April 16, 2019 4:39 pm

London committee forgoes raise but endorses increase for citizen appointees

London City Hall.

Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL File

London city councillors will not be getting another raise, but citizens who sit on the city’s boards and commissions can expect a 2.3 per cent raise on their stipends.

READ MORE: London committee to mull over 2.3% inflation-based salary increase

Members of the Corporate Services Committee received a report on Tuesday recommending the increase, tied to whichever is lower: the per cent increase in the Labour Index or Consumer Price Index (CPI).

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A 2.3 per cent increase would have raised councillors’ annual pay — before taxes — from $51,181 to $52,358. Similarly, the mayor’s pay would have gone from $138,025 to $141,200.

“There’s a tendency to say ‘no, we’re not going to do anything with it because of the optics of it’ but that’s not an appropriate way to address this, on the optics basis,” said Coun. Stephen Turner.

“The rationale for tying this to an index was so that we wouldn’t be mired with the optics question.”

Mayor Ed Holder agreed but said a raise now for councillors would be distasteful, coming off a big bump in December which lifted salaries to match London’s full-time median income.

“I’ll speak to Coun. Turner’s comments which I think are fair — that there has to be some process by which we don’t annually beat ourselves to death on the issue of compensation once a year — but I think this particular time and timing just does not work for me.”

READ MORE: London council scraps minimum wage increase to $15 for civic employees

Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen echoed the mayor, noting that councillors just got a raise in late 2018.

“There’s a number of people who have jobs in London who don’t get [an annual raise]. Given the fact that we’ve had an increase and then to have another one on top sends all the wrong messages.”

The December raise, however, was itself the result of putting off previous increases, according to Coun. Jesse Helmer.

“What’s happened is that there was no increase for a very long period of time and, in fact, all of these normal increases that would’ve happened by policy we did not take while the Compensation Task Force was underway,” said Helmer.

“So it was 0, 0, Compensation Task Force recommends 2016 median income, that is delayed, then it gets implemented, now we’re finally coming back to actually following the policy which is every year just increase it by CPI, which I think is also very reasonable.”

Coun. Michael Van Holst noted that if they keep putting off raises for elected officials, it’ll be a bigger issue down the line, when a larger raise may be unavoidable.

“People are going to say, ‘well, how can you give yourself a 12 per cent raise when nobody else in the public sector gets a 12 per cent raise?’ Of course, the justification would be that we didn’t give ourselves a raise for five years but it just seems awkward. This is awkward no matter what.”

READ MORE: City committee approves proposed hefty pay increase for London council members

Ultimately, the committee voted to approve the increases for citizens on city boards and commissions but not for elected officials.

Full council will have the final say.

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