Jason Setnyk writes: Dear Citizens of Cornwall Ontario,
On October 27th 2014, the people of Cornwall overwhelmingly voted for change. That is why when Cornwall City Council has their inaugural meeting tonight, there will be a lot of new faces around the table.
There are a lot of important issues for this new Council, from Waterfront development, to transparency, and everything in between. There is a lot of work for this new Council to do, however the first step should be a token one, to re-build public trust. A trust that has been slowly eroded over the past eight years.
From closed door meetings, to tanks on the waterfront, to human resources boondoggles that cost tax payers millions of dollars, citizens became frustrated with the politics being played at City Hall. The icing on the cake though, had to be the huge pay hike.
During a time when City Council was tightening it’s belt after spending 1.4 million dollars or more on litigation, it was infuriating to learn that the previous Council (2010-2014) hired a consultant for $10,000 to determine whether or not they deserved a pay raise.
Of course the consultant came back with the recommendation that they indeed deserved a raise.
So Council voted themselves a raise. But they didn’t vote themselves a modest raise, no in sheer arrogance just before an election, they voted themselves a huge pay raise.
In July 2014, Mayor Bob Kilger broke the dead lock, and in a 6-5 vote Councillors voted that their annual salary would go up by $7000, and that the Mayor’s salary would go up by $12,000 annually starting in 2015.
Bob Kilger, Elaine MacDonald, Andre Rivette, Syd Gardiner, Glen Grant, and Denis Carr all voted themselves a raise that will cost tax payers $328,000 between 2015 and 2018.
Bob Kilger, Syd Gardiner, Glen Grant, and Denis Carr are now gone. Andre Rivette, who finished in 10th spot, was only a few hundred votes away from losing his seat too.
The 2014 election is now history, we have a new council, and many new faces. During the election, Council candidates talked the talk, and now it is time for them to walk the walk. The time for rhetoric is over, and the time for action is now.
The new Mayor and Councillors elected have the opportunity to set the tone for the next four years.
It is time for this new Council to rescind the huge pay raise. It is a token gesture, but it is an important one to re-build trust, and to show the public that they are fiscally responsible and humble public servants ready to lead by example.
If in the future Council wants to discuss pay raises, they should simply take-up the recommendation by the Compensation Review Committee to base any pay increases on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the previous year.
This would be a simple, fair, transparent and consistent way to regulate any future pay increases.
Here is a web link to the recommendation Council ignored in 2010: