Whitbourne councillors working for nothing
Wood said the town looks at other municipalities with similar populations and budgets when deciding on remuneration.
The mayor pointed out that towns like Deer Lake, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Labrador City, Marystown and Carbonear are all used as yard sticks.
So why do municipal leaders get paid? Because it’s “very demanding,” according to Wood.
When he spoke with The Compass, Wood painted a picture of moving from one public event to another, mixing in council business and his private life.
Mayors are often called upon to attend public functions and meetings, cut ribbons and give speeches. They are also often the first point-of-contact for residents with concerns or questions. Media interviews are also part of the job.
Wood, a retired educator, said his days are often dominated by municipal issues and commitments. He is also heavily involved with the Royal Canadian Legion.
“It’s very time consuming,” said Wood. “Mayors work for their remuneration and you have to enjoy it.”
The curious case of Bay de Verde
Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy was not aware of remuneration when he got involved in municipal politics. Being paid for his services never crossed his mind then, and it still does not now.
“I’m about providing for the people, listening to their concerns and contributing
• 205. Notwithstanding section 99, a council (a) may pay to the chairperson, deputy chairperson, mayor, deputy mayor and other councillors the annual or other remuneration that may be agreed upon by the council as determined by a 2/3 vote of the councillors in office and in accordance with the regulations; and (b) may by a vote of the majority of the councillors reimburse the chairperson, deputy chairperson, mayor, deputy mayor and other councillors for reasonable expenses incurred by them in the conduct of municipal business; 3. A council may, by a majority vote of the councillors in office, vote to pay remuneration to a councillor and shall fix the amount to be paid to him or her. 4. The total remuneration voted to be paid by a council in a year under section 3 shall not exceed: (a) two per cent of a total fixed revenue of more than $1 million in the approved budget for the financial year, or (b) three per cent of a total fixed revenue of $500,000 to $1 million in the approved budget for the financial year of the council but shall not exceed $20,000; or (c) four per cent of a total fixed revenue of $250,000 to less than $500,000 in the approved budget for the financial year of the council but shall not exceed $15,000; or (d) five per cent of a total fixed rev- to the community,” said Murphy.
In his role as mayor, the Cabot Academy principal feels there is no issue “that is too trivial” for his attention. Some days, Murphy could be dealing with issues late into the evening. He does it because he loves working for the people of his community.
It’s very time consuming. Mayors work for their remuneration
and you have to enjoy it. — Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood
“If remuneration wasn’t there, I’d still be there,” he said.
Murphy expressed delight that The Compass was shining a spotlight on remuneration, adding he believes strongly in transparency.
There’s no hiding the fact that Murphy, on a per capita basis, is arguably one of the highest paid small-town mayors in the province. There are less than 400 residents in Bay de Verde, yet Murphy is paid a yearly stipend of $2,500, which is greater than some mayors in larger towns.
It’s a similar situation in nearby Old Perlican, where Mayor Harry Strong makes $4,000 in a town with some 661 citizens.
By comparison, South River Mayor Arthur Petten is paid $2,000 (population just under 700), Brigus Mayor Byron Rod- enue of less than $250,000 in the approved budget for the financial year of the council but shall not exceed $10,000;
• Entitlement — 6. (1) A councillor is, in accordance with this section, entitled to remuneration for each quarter during which he or she holds office and a councillor’s entitlement to remuneration commences in the first quarter in which he or she attends more than half of the regularly scheduled public council meetings subsequent to his or her election or appointment to council. (2) Where a councillor is elected or appointed as a councillor in a quarter, that councillor is entitled to remuneration that is a proportional share of remuneration for that quarter provided that he or she attends more than half of the regularly scheduled public council meetings held during that quarter after he or she is elected or appointed. (3) A councillor in office throughout a quarter shall not be paid remuneration for that quarter where he or she attends fewer than half of the regularly scheduled public council meetings held during that quarter unless the council has granted him or her a paid leave of absence. (4) Where a council approves an unpaid leave of absence for a councillor, the councillor to which the leave of absence applies shall be entitled to a pro- way is paid $2,300 (population of 750) and Cupids Mayor Ron Laracy receives $1,600 (population 761).
What sets Bay de Verde and Old Perlican apart? Substantial annual operating budgets that exceed $1 million, fattened by taxes from a bustling seafood processing sector in the towns.
Budgeting for the two per cent it is allowed by the Municipalities Act, Bay de Verde is allowed to take up to nearly $28,000, but the total falls well short of that.
Murphy said any extra money from remuneration is used to cover the cost of councillors going to conferences and other forms of training/correspondence.
Taking nothing, giving everything
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is The Town of Whitbourne, where municipal leaders literally give freely of their time. The budget for remuneration? Zero. Whitbourne is widely regarded as a community on the rise, with a population nearing the 1,000 mark and a budget closing in on $1 million.
The town can allot up to three per cent for remuneration, or nearly $29,000.
“We just don’t do it,” said Whitbourne Mayor Lloyd Gosse.
There was a time when council claimed remuneration, but “there has not been a call for it, and it’s working,” Gosse said.
Gosse recognizes there may come a time when it will be looked at, but for now “council is not pushing it.”
firstname.lastname@example.org portional share of remuneration for regularly scheduled public council meetings attended during the quarter during which the leave occurs, provided that he or she attends more than half of the regularly scheduled public council meetings held during that quarter. (5) Where a councillor resigns or as a result of an election or for another reason leaves his or her office, that councillor is entitled to remuneration that is a proportional share of remuneration for the quarter during which he or she was a councillor provided that he or she attended more than half of the regularly scheduled public council meetings held during that quarter. (6) In this section, a proportional share of remuneration is an amount of remuneration determined by dividing the maximum amount of remuneration that the councillor would be entitled to receive during the quarter by the number of regularly scheduled public council meetings held during that quarter and multiplying that calculated amount by the number of regularly scheduled public council meetings attended by that councillor during that quarter.
Source: Municipalities Act, 1999 and Newfoundland and Labrador Remuneration and Reimbursement Regulations, 2001.
Old Perlican Mayor Harry Strong
Spaniard’s Bay Mayor John Drover
Cupids Mayor Ron Laracy
Harbour Grace town councillor Wendell Hunt (left) and deputy mayor Terry Barnes are pictured at a public meeting in 2011.
Whitbourne mayor Lloyd Gosse