Open letter to Guelph City Council

(13 July 2018) – I just sent this letter by e-mail to the Guelph mayor and city councillors. I will share their responses as they arrive in my inbox:

“Dear Mayor and Councillors,

Regarding the decision to set the mayor’s net salary for 2019 at the same level as the net salary for 2018, I have some questions about how you propose to accomplish this.

The first question flows from the slight chance that the current mayor is not re-elected but is replaced by a new mayor who has a different personal tax profile, how do you propose to set the new gross salary at a level that the new mayor’s net income will equal that of the current mayor?

Second, in the event that the new provincial government reduces personal income taxes, as indicated in the throne speech, will the incoming mayor refund any increased net income back to the hard working tax payers of Guelph?

Third, in the event that at the end of the 2019 tax year, the mayor’s tax refund is higher than that received in 2018, will the mayor return the extra to the city?

Fourth, how do you propose to monitor any other variables that affect the mayor’s net salary?

Fifth, how frequently do you propose to review the mayor’s net salary amounts and make the appropriate adjustments to ensure that it stays the same as currently received?

I look forward to hearing your answers to these questions and sharing the information with the voters.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Pickersgill”

1 Comment

  1. Alan, as I voted against the Mayor’s salary increase – because I found the process had been perverted by the amendment of the Compensation Committee’s recommendation – I am very happy should any Councillor reopen this issue and move that we restore the salary to the recommended level.

    NOTE: I am not opposed to remunerating the Mayor fairly regardless whom it is that is mayor. I have a very serious ethical issue with Council amending a recommendation of this type.

    It seems we have two choices: accept or reject – otherwise we are determining our own salary and the work of the committee is discredited by us. Had the committee recommended another figure, I would either have accepted or rejected it. I cannot condone Council fiddling with a citizen’s recommendation on what it is we earn.

    Note too: I believe Councillors should be full time and paid more. That would change the character of council and require all Councillors to assume more workload. As it is, right now, my pension which I rely upon and which I contributed to for decades subsidizes a full time job and I am happy to do that – I do know I often put in a 40 hour week dealing with constituents and literally hundreds of pages of required reading. Guelph must deal with professionalizing and making full time our local politicians – we are simply too big to be run by part-timers.

    Question 2 and 3: good questions – why not ask the mayor?

    Question 4: I cannot monitor these. I do not have the tools to do so and we are not empowered to do so. Between elections, the discussion of salary is moot.

    Question 5: The whole issue of the mayor’s salary was mishandled. Council erred in reviewing the history of the last raise which elevated the mayor in accordance with the citizens’ committee recommendation to a “fair market value” for a mayor. We now have a mayor who earns at the 75th percentile and councillors who earn at the 55th. This can shift significantly by autumn as other councils establish their remuneration. According to Karl Wettstein, it is likely that by then the Mayor will still be at the 75th but our council will be at the 30th or 40th percentile a grievous imbalance with the mayor earning almost 4 times what councillors earn.

    One final note: I am not in this for the remuneration. I worked for years and paid put to 13.5% of my income into a pension fund. I retired early when I was encouraged to run for Council by people in Ward 3. I am happy to “subsidize” a full time job with my savings (AKA pension) as I love Guelph. Many councillors are not so lucky – we have some that rely on their remuneration as their sole income. Others are on the provincial sunshine list as they earn over $100,000 – plus their Council salary plus the they might earn from private businesses – full disclosure, I earn some money from my solar panels but only after they are paid off – about $2300 per year after an investment of %23,000 six years ago. Not all councillors are equal. This makes it more egregious that we manipulate the independent recommendation of a Citizens’ Committee.

    Thanks for letting me explain why I vote for the Council recommendation and why I voted against the poorly considered Mayoral amendment.

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