Heart’s Con­tent coun­cil­lors to re­ceive re­mu­ner­a­tion

Mayor be­lieves coun­cil­lors should be on par with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS

For the first time in its in­cor­po­rated his­tory, elected lead­ers in Heart’s Con­tent will soon be re­ceiv­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion for their ser­vices to the town.

Coun­cil en­dorsed the de­ci­sion dur­ing bud­get con­sul­ta­tions in Novem­ber by a vote of 6-1, with Cumby, coun­cil­lors Glenda His­cock. Brian Firz­patrick, Mike Mid­dlekoop, Pa­tri­cia Smith and Tol­son Ren­dell vot­ing in favour.

Deputy Mayor Doug Piercey, who is serv­ing his first term on coun­cil, was the lone wolf vot­ing against re­mu­ner­a­tion.

At­tempts to con­tact Piercey were un­suc­cess­ful.

Cumby be­lieves it took more than four decades for the coun­cil to be­gin re­ceiv­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion be­cause the pre­vi­ous coun­cil — which had for­mer Mayor Don Blun­don at the helm for the en­tire time — did not agree with pay­ment for be­ing a coun­cil­lor. Cumby ex­plained it had noth­ing to do with fi­nances.

Blun­don told The Com­pass last year when he an­nounced his re­tire­ment from mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics he did not agree with re­mu­ner­a­tion.

“My own feel­ing is that it's a vol­un­teer job. I'm here to help the town as much as pos­si­ble. I felt that if I was get­ting paid for some­thing I en­joyed do­ing, I didn't see the ben­e­fit. The ma­jor­ity of the oth­ers feel the same way,” he said.

Four mem­bers of the pre­vi­ous coun­cil are cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing coun­cil seats — Cumby, Fitz­patrick, His­cock and Smith — and each of them voted in favour of re­mu­ner­a­tion in Novem­ber.

Cumby de­scribed his rea­son­ing for vot­ing in favour.

“I felt if the other com­mu­ni­ties were be­ing re­mu­ner­ated for the work they were do­ing, we should be in the same sta­tus,” Cumby ex­plained. “When the mo­tion was made, I had no ob­jec­tion to it.

“Ev­ery­day th­ese coun­cil­lors aren’t just at­tend­ing meet­ings. In fact, the deputy mayor has been out try­ing to get a wa­ter­line free. He’s been out there most of the morn­ing.”

Cumby also said coun­cil­lors helped with the warm­ing cen­tre at the recre­ation cen­tre dur­ing the black­out Jan. 4 to 6, and a coun­cil­lor had been as­sist­ing with or­ga­niz­ing cloth­ing do­na­tions sent to the town for a fam­ily who lost their home last week to a fire.

De­ter­min­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion

The coun­cil is still dis­cussing how much re­mu­ner­a­tion will be al­lot­ted, and how it will be dis­trib­uted, but Cumby did ex­plain how the group will de­cide.

“We are go­ing to check around with other towns to see how much they give,” he said. “We haven’t set­tled on a fig­ure yet. We’re the last com­mu­nity on the (Trin­ity) shore, I think, that hasn’t been (pay­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion).”

Cumby added that Whit­bourne — the only other Trin­ity shore mu­nic­i­pal­ity with­out re­mu­ner­a­tion — had re­cently ap­proved it as well.

While dis­cussing the fi­nan­cial toll this could have on the town, Cumby was quick to re­ply.

“We are not go­ing to go be­yond what other com­mu­ni­ties are pay­ing, we’re just look­ing to be equiv­a­lent.”

There are two pos­si­bil­i­ties for how a coun­cil can get paid its re­mu­ner­a­tion:

• coun­cil­lors can get paid a set amount for each quar­ter by at­tend­ing at least half the coun­cil meet­ings; or

• each coun­cil­lor can get paid a set dol­lar amount for each meet­ing at­tended.

The for­mula for de­ter­min­ing how much a town can put to­wards re­mu­ner­a­tion de­pends on the town’s bud­get.

For Heart’s Con­tent, they fall into the cat­e­gory of $250,000 to $499,999.

Un­der the re­mu­ner­a­tion and re­im­burse­ment reg­u­la­tions in the Mu­nic­i­pal Act, a town with a bud­get that size can al­lot up to four per cent of the to­tal bud­get to­wards re­mu­ner­a­tion, up to a to­tal of $15,000 per fis­cal year.

Fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of the town

This year, the town’s bud­get is slightly higher than pre­vi­ous years, but de­tails were not yet avail­able on the break­down.

Some $417,000 has been struc­tured to form the bud­get. In 2012, the bud­get was some $350,000, but Cumby said the town is pre­pared for the in­crease.

“We are in a good fi­nan­cial po­si­tion for the first time in a long time,” he said. “We strug­gled for a num­ber of years. We might have looked at get­ting a loan, but things have im­proved. The bud­get and fi­nan­cial af­fairs are be­ing man­aged quite well. There is a lot that still needs to change…”

One thing Cumby could say about the bud­get was it is the same tax struc­ture as pre­vi­ous years — 8 mills.

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