DIDSBURY - The three-member council compensation committee formed to examine mayor, deputy mayor and councillor remuneration has recommended cuts in pay to take effect following the October 2021 municipal election.
Made up of public members Brad Blatz, Gail Nowlan and Brian Wittal, the committee presented its latest findings and recommendations during the April 13 council meeting.
“We recommended a slight reduction in all cases, for mayor, deputy mayor and councillors,” said Blatz.
The committee used a comparative spreadsheet supplied by administration for the review process, looked at the current economic situation in the community and province, and at Town of Didsbury staff salaries compared with comparable communities.
For the remuneration review, the committee chose to use three different comparison groups: Group A - communities with populations from 4,000 to 6,300 (Carstairs, Didsbury, Vermillion, Wainwright and Westlock); Group B - communities along the Highway 2 corridor (Carstairs, Crossfield, Didsbury, Innisfail and Olds); and Group C - communities in Mountain View County (Carstairs, Didsbury, Olds and Sundre).
Regarding mayor’s remuneration, Didsbury’s current rate is $2,608 per month. Group A’s average is $2,242, Group B’s average is $2,208, and Group C’s average is $2,317.
“Based on these comparisons, the (Didsbury) mayor is being paid at the 92 percentile, which is out of proportion based on the current economic realities that our community is facing and the range at which staff salaries are being set versus comparable, which is current at 60 per cent,” the committee said in its report to council.
The committee is recommending that the mayor’s remuneration going forward should be reduced $300 per month for the current term to $2,308 per month.
“A reduction of this level would show prudent fiscal leadership and keep Didsbury at the 60th percentile to comparable communities and in line with current expectations that council has for staff salaries against comparable communities.”
Regarding council remuneration, the committee is recommending that it be reduced from the current $1,434 a month to $1,369 per month.
“This reduction would keep Didsbury at the 60th percentile to comparable communities which is where it should be based on all factors considered,” the report states.
Didsbury’s current remuneration for the deputy mayor is $1,868 a month.
The committee is recommending a reduction in deputy mayor remuneration and has put forward two possible options: pay the deputy mayor the same as councillors plus $50 per meeting, seminar or function when he or she is stepping in for the mayor as the town’s representative; or make the deputy mayor remuneration $125 a month above councillor remuneration.
The committee did not make any recommendations regarding per diem pay for the elected officials.
If adopted, all the proposed remuneration reductions would save the municipality about $900 a month or $11,880 per year.
The recommended changes would only take effect following the next election cycle, Ethan Gorner, the town's chief administrative officer, told council.
Mayor Rhonda Hunter thanked the committee for its work.
Council passed a motion accepting the committee’s report as information.
Council then passed a second motion directing the committee to continue its review to include all other compensatory income, such as per diem rates, travel, training, memberships and benefits.