Looking for help for a fair wage
The never-ending debate about how Calgary taxpayers’ money is spent can create ugly behaviour at city hall.
It especially gets interesting when the discussion at council turns to their compensation packages.
Now determining the worth of your own work is a tricky matter. Hard to get consensus for a publicly funded role — especially when that same public likely has a jaundiced view of politicians.
City council set out to seemingly deal with that better with a five-member citizen committee to determine fair compensation.
Panel members — sporting backgrounds in law, human resources and business — spent seven months coming up with recommendations, and reviewed compensation packages in other similarly sized municipalities.
At the time, panel chair Peter Bowel said the volunteers drove to city hall for meetings that were then cancelled, paid out of their own pockets for city documents to help them in their task, and endured the “mindnumbing, picayune rules of city committees.”
Nonetheless, that independent citizen committee was a fair way to come at it — or at least as fair as it could be, given the ask.
Unfortunately, they were not treated fairly. At a rather acrimonious meeting in May (not attended by Mayor Naheed Nenshi), that committee recommended the $212,870 salary given to the mayor should be cut by $12,123, and that will take effect after next month’s election.
Unfortunately, councillors accused the panel of bias, and decided adjustments to council’s pay will continue to be based on changes to the average Alberta weekly earnings — rejecting the recommendation they vote annually to accept or decline the modification, as well as rejecting an elimination of generous transitional allowances. Councillors did agree on a freeze to their $113,416 salaries for 2018.
Fast forward to this week, when Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart brought forward a motion asking her colleagues to once again back an independent review of how council pay is determined.
Seems sensible — just not for this council, as they voted it down.
Here are some comments from Coun. Druh Farrell:
“I’m not convinced the current process is broken,” says Farrell, adding she felt disrespect went both ways. “We need to put some energy into appointing the right people and most prepared people.” The right people? Seemingly, we know what kind of “volunteer” they might be seeking.