Town council to get pay raise?

Darrell Cole
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Staff recommends increase in honorariums

Amherst town councillors, the mayor and deputy mayor may get an increase in their annual honorarium if the town follows through with a staff recommendation to bring the pay level closer to the provincial average for similar-size communities.

AMHERST – Amherst town councillors are about to get an early Christmas gift.

Staff is recommending elected officials receive an increase to their honorarium to bring it in line with the provincial average for similar-size communities.

“Staff have reviewed remuneration figures for elected officials and compared them to municipalities in Cumberland, New Glasgow, Bridgewater, Truro and Yarmouth,” Amherst’s director of finance Vince Arbing told council’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday. “Amherst’s remuneration for elected officials is significantly below other units of a similar size.”

He is recommending the honorariums be increased.

At present, the mayor receives $18,795 annually, while the deputy mayor receives $15,812 and councillors each get $14,628.

In Cumberland County, the warden receives $37,368 annually, the deputy warden gets $24,268 and councillors receive $22,060.

In New Glasgow, the mayor receives $33,723, the deputy mayor gets $23,186 and councillors each get $21,358. In Bridgewater, the mayor’s honorarium is $32,031, the deputy gets $20,860 and councillors receive $18,108.

The mayor of Truro receives $34,520, the deputy mayor gets $22,435 and councillors get $19,926, while in Yarmouth the mayor receives $35,261, the deputy mayor receives $24,889 and councillors each receive $20,741.

Arbing said he averaged the honorariums for Cumberland, New Glasgow, Bridgewater, Truro and Yarmouth to come up with a proposed honorarium of $34,580 for the mayor, $23,127 for the deputy mayor and $20,438 for councillors.

If approved by council at its monthly meeting next Monday, the changes would be retroactive to Nov. 1.

Arbing said the cost to the town for the remaining five months would be $20,020. While the change was not included in the 2012-13 budget, he said, there is room to make the change.

Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said he can’t remember the last time a review was done of council remuneration, but suggested this review shows how far behind Amherst is compared to other communities.

Council honorariums are traditionally tied to the consumer price index, similar to the town’s non-unionized staff.

Herrett said municipalities have different ways of reviewing what’s paid to elected officials. In some cases, staff do comparative analysis with other municipal units, some hire outside consultants, while others have had retired judges conduct the review.

Deputy Mayor George Baker said Amherst is the lowest of all the municipal units studied.

“This will bring Amherst up to the average,” he said. “We’ve been behind for a long time.”

Mayor Robert Small said he understands there will be questions about the increase, but said

“I’m sure people will have a comment on it, but this isn’t just for this council. It’s for future councils,” he said. “I believe if you want quality representation you need to encourage them to put their name forward as an elected official.”

Organizations: Town council

Geographic location: Cumberland County, New Glasgow, Yarmouth

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Recent comments

    December 18, 2012 - 09:35

    Pathetic, revolting, disgusting.......these words are what pop into my mind. How arrogant, self-serving, pompous.....just a few more words that pop into my mind. I did not vote for....""IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL......"". I guess I'll stop commenting now.

  • Steve Scott
    December 17, 2012 - 07:02

    I thought these elected positions were about public service. i am surprized that these elected officials are pay as much as they are now. I can see why people run for office in this town. It seems to me that council meets a couple times a month. If any serious decision has to be made they hire a so call consultant at an absorbant cost. The consultant usually states the obvious, that a half dozen service minded citizens could have told the council for free. As other people have mentioned, many people are losing jobs in Amherst and just go to the local mall and see all the empty stores and it is easy to to see there are strong signs that Amherst is a dying town -despite new sidewalks downtown. Are the taxes in New Glasgow and Truro as high as they are in Amherst? The employees of the town are recommending a raise for their boses who will then vote on their own raises? What kind of financial controls are in place within this government? Who is checking the CAO to ensure he is controlling the expenses in this town's goverment? We wait to see how they vote on their salary increases. Then we will see if our mayor and council are there for service or greed,

  • Noodle
    December 14, 2012 - 08:13

    As my mother used to say: "If Jimmy jumped off a bridge would you jump off, too?" This isn't a unionized council - raises should be based on merit not just because someone else got one.

  • Struggling
    December 13, 2012 - 07:53

    Shameful! Shocking! Insensitive! In recent years, we've lost 200+ jobs and found only a few replacements. Our councillors and town staff have been unsuccessful in replacing them. Now, these same people we elected to look out for our welfare are asking us to find an additional $300,000 over 4 years to satisfy their urge to shop. Totally unacceptable! Let's let them know we don't approve of their huge wage increases.

  • wingman
    December 12, 2012 - 11:00

    I am really pissed off as a resident of the County when I see what our Warden and Councillors are making. What are they doing to deserve this type of money? Where are the jobs created?

  • Scooter Girl
    December 11, 2012 - 14:05

    I can't believe there hasn't been any comments on this yet. While I'm all for an increase (most councillers must miss some time from their regular jobs due to council work) I would think something more in line with actual wage increases in these modern times would be more realistic. I haven't received more than a 3.5% increase each year the last 10 years, which doesn't come close to the 35-50% increases proposed here. & I don't recall hearing any mention of this during the campaigning just a short time ago if in fact this is based on "quality representation" for "future councils". & it seems they've know they haven't been close to other council wages for "a long time" . If you want this much of an increase I would like to see 1 less counciller. Oh, & thanks for saving me money by not hiring an "outside consultant" to justify all this.

  • al
    December 11, 2012 - 10:53

    raise for what?,,,they just get started,,,,raise,,while lots of businesses are closing and the number of the unemployed are going up,,,and ahmerst and cumberland county are at the buttom of the provincial and federal governments christmas list,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,wow,,,,,,,,,,hallelujah and congratulation

  • Joe Murphy
    December 11, 2012 - 10:26

    This is really sleazy, slide it in right after the election instead of making it an issue before the public. Raises and renumeration should be based on performance like in the private sector. Truro is bigger, New Glasgow is also bigger so if we're going to do an exercise lets be sure to compare apples to apples. Compensation to councillors and the small mayor should be decided by public plebescite not in some bean counters office. someone needs to go through the exercise and really determine if we're getting any value out of these people. I'm aware of one councillor who has a town appointed concession stand. Would this not be considered part of his compensation? Are there other such deals with the mayor or other councillors?

  • lol
    December 11, 2012 - 07:51

    These guys can get raises while others lose there jobs. Glad these people can sleep at night while scotsburns is closing, jungle jims closed, call center down town closed. what about the people who are out of work no ei for christmas. But as long as small and the rest of town council are happy and have a good christmas i guess we should all be happy. Wake up and deal with the problems in this town before it becomes a retirement and welfare town.

  • Bob Kellegrew
    December 11, 2012 - 07:50

    Beginning in the year 2013 and every year thereafter, those positions will bw worth every penny.

  • Joyce
    December 11, 2012 - 06:36

    Are you still happy you voted these "persons" into office???

  • Jack On The Rocks
    December 11, 2012 - 05:41

    Tell them to take the funds from the excess money they have from not paying out retired employees....or should I say the some that didn't get paid....

  • Mr. Chow
    December 11, 2012 - 05:10

    I love this lets pay people more for doing nothing to keep jobs in Amherst. I would understand if they were doing a GOD JOB then yes. But to give them more money just because the rest of nova scotia makes more money come on. Ok fine they did some stuff down town and the swear treatment plant. But again were are the jobs were is the real growth. There is none again we are loosing jobs and this council is doing NOTHING. You know at this rate we will turn into Springhill or Oxford with nothing left but one or two companies left in town. The only people that will be making big dollars will be the town councils.