On Feb. 2, the budget committee of council passed the budget, declining raises that would have addressed inflationary pressures for this year. What a difference five days makes.
On Feb. 7, enough of them, 10, opted to pump up their salaries after the next election, rubberstamping a citizen’s committee proposal to increase their pay by nearly $3,000 a year to $36,900.
The mayor’s $116,747 salary will remain unchanged. His salary is for a full-time position.
As for the part-time councillors, their pay is enough to make many full-time employees who work in the private sector in Chatham-Kent, let alone part-timers, salivate.
In other words, nice work if you can get it.
For councillors who claim this is a full-time job for them, they’re making in excess of $20 per hour based on a 35-hour workweek.
For those who spend say 24 hours a week serving their constituents, that salary translates to nearly $30 per hour.
Our minimum wage is $15 per hour.
We are still in the middle of a very challenging pandemic that is hammering local small businesses. Every scrap of savings, including off property taxes, is appreciated and needed. Very few local small business owners pumped up their own pay during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many dipping into their savings to keep things afloat, while others had to shutter their businesses.
Yet here we are seeing councillors hike their pay. The optics, quite honestly, stink.
We realize they are pointing to Nov. 15 – the point in time when the 2023-26 council takes office. But how many of the 17 councillors will benefit from that decision to crank up the pay? Most times, turnover is marginal on council. The pandemic may burn a few more out, but expect to see at least half of council back in office in late November.
A massive amount of municipal spending is tied to salaries overall. We urge council to count the pennies and think of the average citizen when rubberstamping any raises in the near future.
Aren’t we all in this together?