On September 1 I revealed that the current Mayor and Council had commissioned a secret report on council salaries that had been hidden from the public. I knew this because of an Access to Information request I made to the city. The Mayor and Council did not publicly disclose that the report had been received in a public meeting, as they should have done.
As I have committed during this election campaign, I intend to ask questions, and more importantly, get the answers to those questions. If I’m elected, I’ll do the same thing.
So here now are some questions that I asked and the answers I have received, or deduced from the information that I’ve been given.
Was there a recent report on council salary and benefits?
Weren’t the Mayor and Council just following the rules?
That’s putting a spin on things. Yes, the Mayor and Council were following the rules, but they were following their OWN rules – rules that THEY created in 2018. Remember – our last Council immediately brought in a four-year wage freeze in 2013. This Mayor and Council gave themselves a raise early in their term and then made up their own rules for the next increase.
Why didn’t we know about it until now?
The minute of Council authorizing staff to engage a consultant to review council compensation took place in a Briefing Session (a private, unofficial meeting which is not to be used to provide direction to staff) on September 02, 2020 B20-092 – City Manager report. “The city manager reported that he will be commencing the process for Council Remuneration review. It was agreed to pursue the option of retaining a consultant to conduct the remuneration review.”
The Mayor and Council issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in October, 2020. This RFP was “not awarded” according to city records. Yet, at some point after this, the Mayor and Council secretly proceeded to conduct the review. So why is the RFP listed as “not awarded” if council continued to proceed with the review?
Proposals reviews were completed by a council committee, on December 1 with LW Consulting having been selected.
None of this was publicly disclosed. It should have been.
What did the report recommend?
The report recommended hefty increases in the annual amount paid to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors.
When was it discussed?
On March,1, 2021, In another non official “Briefing Session”, (Minute B21-001) the Mayor and Council had a brief discussion on the Council Remuneration Report. “There was unanimous consent to not implement the recommendations of the report.”
Once again, this was not an official meeting, the minutes of “Briefing Sessions” are not made public, so why hide the report, IF, as stated the Mayor and Council were all in agreement not to adopt the recommendations?
Remember that the report was delivered to council on January 21, 2021.
What did the review cost?
The total cost of the report was $4250 + HST.
If salary increases are recommended, who would agree to accept the increases?
To date, of the current council, only Councillors Linda Chaisson and Vaughn Granter have stated publicly that they would not support any increases in council salaries.
Some would have you believe that no salary increase is possible before 2025. Based on the wording of this Mayor and Council’s own rules, I’m not convinced. The Rules that this Mayor and Council made up suggest only that it would be up to the next council to adopt or reject these recommendations.
That next council is about to be elected.
In the meantime, here’s my commitment: as a Councillor, I would NOT vote in favor of any increase to the salary for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor or Councillors. I will also bring forward a motion to FREEZE COUNCIL REMUNERATION FOR THE MAYOR, DEPUTY MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS – at the current rates for the full 4 year term of council. The taxpayers of Corner Brook are paying enough already.
Now, ask yourself this – what other candidates are ready to publicly make that commitment?