Strathcona County Council remuneration is not a trivial issue that should be taken lightly. The Strathcona County Taxpayers Association believes all sides of the issue should be placed before residents of Strathcona County.
Strathcona County is the sixth largest municipality in Alberta behind Calgary, Edmonton, Wood Buffalo, Red Deer, and Lethbridge. Red Deer Councillors make $57,000, Lethbridge Councillors make less than that. Strathcona County Councillors receive over $70,000. It should be fair to question why a Council would increase their remuneration during a deep recession when they were already among the highest paid amongst municipalities of a similar size.
Our association is also concerned at the current Mayor’s behaviour during the remuneration increase. During the last election campaign she promised to take $9,142 per month for four years. The current council passed a motion to set her rate at this figure. After the remuneration study the mayor saw she could stand to make a lot more money if she changed her mind. However, a vote was needed to change the motion of her frozen salary. Council was split. Four said yes, and four said no.
A tied vote would have meant the motion for the mayor to take a set amount for her entire term would have remained in place. But the mayor led the debate and was allowed to cast the deciding vote to eliminate the motion. She could then accept the substantial wage increase in front of her. Instead, she should have excused herself from both the debate and the vote.
During the last election campaign the Mayor told residents of Strathcona County she would lead by example. After the election leading by example no longer seemed to matter. When this results in personal financial gain it is once again fair to question the behaviour.
Can the current Council be blamed for accepting a raise that was provided to them in a remuneration study? Probably not. But the idea the mayor changed her promise of a frozen salary should and will become an issue in the upcoming municipal election. Either way, it is agreed it is important the facts should be straight and all the facts should be presented.