A new report says Woolwich councillors should get a 47-per-cent pay hike, the mayor 25 per cent. The fact that it’s an election year says that’s highly unlikely.
Compiled by Listowel-based Ward and Uptigrove Human Resources Solutions, the study was presented to council Tuesday night. No one seized on the recommendations, deferring a vote on council pay until a later date following public input on the proposal.
While the dollar figures are relatively low, the percentage makes for bad optics, as councillors hinted at in this week’s discussion.
The study compared Woolwich to 12 other similarly-sized municipalities (10,000 to 30,000 population) in southwestern Ontario, including Wellesley, Wilmot, Mapleton and Centre Wellington townships, said consultant Ben Cornell.
After compiling the median averages of total compensation among the 12 comparators, his firm determined what rate of pay would put Woolwich at the halfway point, the 50th percentile. For the mayor’s position, the target number is $29,478, almost $6,000 more than the current $23,559. For councillors, the applicable figures are $17,293 and $11,779 respectively.
On average, the other municipalities pay out $6.85 per capita in council remuneration. At $3.45, Woolwich was the lowest.
Woolwich councillors have a higher workload than their counterparts in the other municipalities, based on a five-member council rather than the median average of seven, said Cornell.
“It’s fair to conclude that taxpayers of Woolwich are getting very good value.”
Lower pay and no benefits mean Woolwich’s elected officials lag behind many other municipalities, he added.
The consultant recommends that the township makes the big increase by easing it in over the next four-year term, while adjusting for inflation.
Coun. Mark Bauman, noting the study was far more detailed than he expected, said he’ll need more information before making any decision on the matter.
Added Coun. Ruby Weber: “I would certainly like to hear from the public.”
Traditionally, the outgoing council makes a decision on the pay levels of the incoming bunch, in effect giving the public a chance to vote on the issue. As chief administrative officer David Brenneman noted, the next steps are entirely up to councillors.