City councillors defend 3.8-per-cent salary hike
One-third of each councillor's salary is tax exempt
Edmonton city councillors are set to receive a 3.8-per-cent bump in pay this year, putting their salaries just shy of $100,000.
Mayor Don Iveson will get a similar increase in 2015, pushing his salary to $176,145.
The raises, which are automatic, are based on a formula designed using Statistics Canada information on weekly wage increases.
In past years, some councillors have opted to reject the wage increase, or to donate it to charity.
The annual increase allocated for council this year is higher than the 2.25-per-cent bump agreed to in December 2014 by 3,600 city workers represented by CUPE Local 30.
In addition to the increase, one-third of councillor salaries are tax exempt, giving them an equivalent salary of $118,824 and the mayor $213,272.
A similar portion of councillors’ vehicle allowances are also tax exempt. In 2011, a compensation committee recommended making council salaries fully taxable.
On Tuesday, Mayor Iveson and other councillors defended the increase — each drawing attention to the fact the amount was determined independent of city council.
“I think the best process to set our compensation is to have it set by an independent committee, and council, I think, is best to just abide by that and not politicize it,” Iveson said.
Several councillors pointed out that holding a council seat is not a typical 9-to-5 job.
“We work hard, we work long hours," said Ward 3 councillor Dave Loken. "If you want to break our wages down into an hourly wage, we’re probably a lot less than it says on paper."
But Mike Scott, the president of CUPE Local 30, questions whether council’s increase should be larger than that of non-council staff.
“It’s a fair increase for the work that (councillors) do, but at the time that they’ve given us such a low increase, I don’t think it’s fair,” Scott said.
“If we’re asked to do a fiscal restraint, we would like to see the fiscal restraint across the board.”