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Mountain View County Cost of living adjustment will cost $275,000

COLA adjustment applies to councillor wages, salary and per diem, and staff salary and hourly wages

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - In a split decision, Mountain View County council has approved a 2.5 per cent cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase for staff and councillors, which will cost the municipality $275,000 in 2022.

The move came by way of motion at the Nov. 10 council meeting, which was held in person and by Zoom. Council approved a one per cent COLA increase in 2021.

Jeff Holmes, the county's chief administrative officer, told council that cost of living adjustment is part of the county’s policies and procedures and is based on consumer price index from September to September.

“The objective is to have council approve COLA as necessary prior to year end so we don’t have to do retroactive adjustments after January 1,” said Holmes. 

“Looking at where our comparative municipalities are, that’s the number we have put forward,” he said. “Making minor adjustments (to COLA) as we go year to year will ensure the wage grid will stay competitive so that every three or four years we don’t have to do a major change to catch up. That’s the philosophy that we adopted when we moved to an annual COLA discussion with council.”

The COLA adjustment applies to councillor wages, salary and per diem, and staff salary and hourly wages, he said.

The current county policy states that COLA is applied to council wages, he said.

Coun. Peggy Johnson said she could not support the increase in COLA in light of hardships facing the agriculture community.

“Based on where I see the majority of our farmers at following the drought and the COVID, as I spoke earlier to the tax realities that they face, I’m struggling to consider supporting this given that it will create an increase in our budget,” said Johnson. “It doesn’t fit from my perspective.”

Coun. Greg Harris said, “For our people I absolutely support it. We are going 2.5 when COLA in Alberta is generally 4.0.”

Coun. Gord Krebs said, “We want to keep good employees working in the county and the way we keep good employees is we keep pace with everybody else or we are going to lose them. So I’m speaking in support of administration's recommendation of two and a half per cent across the board.”

Coun. Jennifer Lutz said she does not support a COLA increase.

“There has been lots of cutbacks across lots of industries,” said Lutz.

Reeve Angela Aalbers said she supports the increase.

“I think our staff has done just an absolutely amazing job and I don’t think we’ve faltered in our service levels at all through all of this COVID and I think we have been very fiscally responsible and I think staff have been very understanding,” said Aalbers.

Reeve Aalbers and councillors Alan Miller, Dwayne Fulton, Harris and Krebs voted for the motion, with councillors Peggy Johnson and Jennifer Lutz voting against.

The increase in COLA will be funded through general revenue, council heard.

Dan Singleton

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