Our council’s sense of entitlement again came to light this week. A report from a consultant tabled in the Nov.1 meeting of the Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee recommends that the mayor receive a 9.5% increase, while councillors get a 5% increase (page five of the report).
Nine-point-five percent? Who gets a raise like that these days? Even five percent is over the top. The justification for this egregious salary boost is stated in the report:
Remuneration traditionally is intended to provide some form of compensation to recognize the time commitment required to meet the needs of constituents and apply municipal good governance. Setting the level of remuneration requires balancing competing considerations: fair compensation in return for time and effort, ability to pay, the traditional notion of public service/volunteerism, and being attractive to entice younger more diverse group to stand for office.
Good governance? Commitment? Effort? Meet the needs of constituents? Stop laughing. You must wonder who is he talking about. Not about our own council whose most memorable achievement this term has been to waste more than $10 million of taxpayer dollars on a personal vendetta, while wallowing in conflicts of interest, rewarding friends, secrecy, bad behaviour, hiring former employers on sole-sourced contracts, woo hoo ideas, and letting the town fall to ruin. The stench of corruption is strong in town hall these days.
This will be their SIXTH salary increase this term by my count.* Do you recall how much financial aid our council gave to local businesses and workers struggling through almost two years of lockdowns? Right: NOTHING. But even though they haven’t had to meet in person for that time, or attend events, council wants to pay themselves more. A lot more. For doing… what?
This came up in the same meeting where the treasurer proudly announced how the town was successful in collecting from people who couldn’t afford to pay their water bills. People have suffered job and revenue loss during the pandemic without any municipal help — was that even taken into account? But the town still chases them for money. And council still expects their raise. Absque verecundia — without shame — like I said in my previous post.
CollingwoodToday recently asked all of council to list what they felt was council’s greatest accomplishments this year. Our mayor couldn’t even come up with a single thing. Couldn’t even be bothered to answer. Nor could he think of a single issue to raise as a challenge for the coming year. Not that he expects to be in office that long. He’s scurrying out of town as soon as he can.
Nor could councillors Berman, Madigan, and Jeffrey come up with anything. I suppose Madigan’s biggest accomplishment would be in showing disrespect to female councillors and getting away with it. Berman? Mr. Mediocrity? Well, he does what he’s told and, mercifully for us, says and does little. Jeffrey, who tried to give away our parkland to out-of-towners, is a loyal soldier who expects to be handed the mayoral sceptre when The Glorious Leader leaves to get a better-paying job in Queen’s Park next year. She votes as the Leader expects her to.
Others claimed the rainbow crosswalk, as if symbolic gestures actually fix or build anything. And it’s not like councillors got out the brushes to do the actual painting themselves. They’re taking credit for staff’s work.
Some said the Affordable Housing Task Force was it. The committee was only created in the spring of this year more than two years after council took office. Council’s reaction to its recent report, Monday night, was — even though there are three council members and three staff members already on the committee — to avoid actually having to do something, council chose instead to refer it to staff for comment sometime within the next three months. It took six months to get the 160-page report done and council sloughed it off for another three. Meanwhile, there are homeless people living out of their cars in the Walmart parking lot, and a small tent city of homeless youths in the woods nearby. Some “accomplishment” this is.
Counc. Doherty claimed it was the Official Plan review, neglecting to mention that the province mandates an OP review every five years, so it had to be done regardless of council’s wishes.
Curiously, none of them mentioned as an “accomplishment” the revenue-growth-and-job-killing interim control bylaw (ICBL) based on their water “crisis” (self-created by their inept handling of ongoing contracts, and ignoring staff reports) that halted new construction for years to come, but was passed without even the pretense of community or industry engagement.
And what about their Grand Scheme: closing Maple Street to vehicular traffic so a half-dozen cyclists could ride it to nowhere in particular every week, but without consulting with residents about it first. Surely that counts as an “accomplishment.”
Or their sole public meeting on Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry that engaged exactly three people, and the only questions raised were about the ongoing waste of taxpayers’ money on a personal vendetta. And the questioner (a local resident) was chastised by Coun. “Besmirched” McLeod for doing so. Another “accomplishment.”
Meanwhile, our unpopular mayor basically abandoned his role last January when he announced he intended to run for the POC nomination and stand as MPP for the riding (he was anointed to the nomination by the premier when it appeared Saunderson would lose his party’s nomination race to challenger Stella Ambler… the lazy Saunderson didn’t have to work for the nomination). Given that the provincial election is in June, it means campaigning at least six months before the term is over, and if he wins, leaving the office he swore to do his best in four months early. But such is his hypocrisy.
Despite giving up on Collingwood and his responsibilities at the county, and refusing to do his job as mayor while he remains in office, he still takes the town’s paycheque. And now he wants a 9.5% raise for it.
And the rest of the council believes they deserve what amounts to their SIXTH salary boost this term.
Collingwood deserves better. And council does NOT deserve a raise.
* Council gives themselves an automatic raise with every budget, tabled as a “cost of living allowance” (COLA) increase. Before 2019, a third of a municipal councillor’s salary was tax-free. In 2019, the province changed the rules to make them pay taxes on it all, and in response, our greedy council voted to give itself more money from taxpayer coffers to compensate for having to pay their fair share. That’s two raises in 2019, one in 2020, one again in 2021. With the recommendations from the consultant’s report, effective January, 2022, they will have this egregious increase PLUS the COLA for a grand total of 6 raises in 38 months. And they still haven’t managed to fix our rust-eaten lampposts or replace missing heritage plaques. Their cupidity knows no bounds.