Premier could see re­gion as ‘good tar­get’

Waterloo Region Record - - Front Page - JEFF OUTHIT

WATER­LOO RE­GION — Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Robert Wil­liams can see how Premier Doug Ford might tar­get this com­mu­nity over the cost of its many politi­cians.

Ford’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment is tak­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary steps to slash elected politi­cians in Toronto and other re­gions, ar­gu­ing that fewer politi­cians makes lo­cal gov­ern­ment more ef­fi­cient.

Water­loo Re­gion has an abun­dance of politi­cians who cost tax­pay­ers sig­nif­i­cantly more than Lon­don or Hamil­ton.

“He may see this as a good tar­get,” said Wil­liams, re­tired from the Univer­sity of Water­loo.

In Water­loo Re­gion, there are 41 politi­cians who jointly direct lo­cal gov­ern­ment in Kitch­ener, Cam­bridge and Water­loo, and a fur­ther 18 who deal only with four ru­ral town­ships.

The count of 41 politi­cians gov­ern­ing three lo­cal cities al­most reaches the com­bined count of politi­cians gov­ern­ing Hamil­ton, Lon­don and Guelph.

Those three cities have twice the pop­u­la­tion, but do not have re­gional struc­tures and are gov­erned by 44 politi­cians in to­tal.

The Ford gov­ern­ment has put all re­gional gov­ern­ments in­clud­ing Water­loo un­der re­view after can­celling elec­tions for re­gional chair in Niagara, Muskoka, Peel and York.

“It’s time to con­sider whether changes are needed to im­prove mu­nic­i­pal gov­er­nance in com­mu­ni­ties where pop­u­la­tions

have grown and the hard-earned dol­lars of tax­pay­ers are be­ing stretched,” said Michael Jig­gins, spokesper­son for Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Steve Clark.

Here is how the re­gion com­pares to other lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

• Lo­cal tax­pay­ers will spend $2.2 mil­lion next year on salaries for 41 politi­cians who jointly gov­ern Kitch­ener, Cam­bridge and Water­loo.

These are fully tax­able salaries, made trans­par­ent after the fed­eral gov­ern­ment elim­i­nated a tax exemption for mu­nic­i­pal politi­cians.

• Lon­don and Hamil­ton tax­pay­ers will spend 29 to 51 per cent less for their politi­cians, bench­mark­ing costs by pop­u­la­tion, tax­a­tion, rev­enue or spend­ing. Guelph res­i­dents will spend slightly more than this re­gion by some bench­marks.

• Com­pared to Hamil­ton, lo­cal tax­pay­ers will spend $560,000 more for 25 more politi­cians to gov­ern three cities that are slightly smaller in pop­u­la­tion.

• Com­pared to Lon­don, lo­cal tax­pay­ers will spend $1.3 mil­lion more for 26 more politi­cians to gov­ern three cities that are larger by one-third.

This could make you go ‘hmm’ if you were a premier bent on re­duc­ing politi­cians and their salaries.

“In terms of the cost of gov­er­nance, the goal is to work to­gether with mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments to give the people what they want,” Clark spokesper­son Michael Jig­gins said.

“And that is lo­cal gov­ern­ments that are work­ing as ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble to sup­port the fu­ture eco­nomic pros­per­ity of their res­i­dents and busi­nesses.”

In Kitch­ener, Cam­bridge and Water­loo, lo­cal po­lit­i­cal salaries are not con­nected to bench­marks such as tax­a­tion, rev­enue, spend­ing or pop­u­la­tion.

• A City of Kitch­ener coun­cil­lor is ac­count­able on av­er­age for al­most $12 mil­lion in taxes, $36 mil­lion in mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing, and 25,300 people. The salary is $50,912 start­ing in 2019.

• A Water­loo re­gional coun­cil­lor is ac­count­able on av­er­age for al­most $31 mil­lion in taxes, $59 mil­lion in mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing, and 35,100 people. The salary is $43,731.

• This com­par­i­son shows re­gional coun­cil­lors earn 14 per cent less de­spite be­ing ac­count­able for more than twice the tax­a­tion, two-thirds more mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing, and one-third more people.

Wil­liams helped ad­vise re­gional coun­cil on its pay. He sees po­lit­i­cal salaries as a tiny cost of gov­ern­ment.

Slash­ing them may not pro­duce the sav­ings Ford seeks, if more aides are then hired to help fewer politi­cians serve the pub­lic, he warns.

Go to to com­pare costs of elected politi­cians.

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