A big pay increase and an upcoming municipal election is a recipe for disaster say many councillors at Toronto City Hall.
Next week, the city's executive committee will debate a report looking at raising the salaries for the next council and mayor. One proposal would see councillors’ salaries rise 12.9 per cent from about $105,000 to just over $119,000. The mayor's salary would go from $177,000 to $200,000.
Coun. Janet Davis says the report should be deep-sixed immediately.
"It’s not the time to be talking about a … pay increase," Davis said.
City staff are required every four years to study how salaries for the mayor and council compare with those of other municipalities, and to propose ways to even out any disparity. City bylaws say councillors and the mayor should be in the 75th percentile of councillors in other cities. But an outside consultant found current councillors are in the 37th percentile; the mayor is in the 61st.
That puts Toronto councillors behind their GTA colleagues in Mississauga, Markham and Oshawa, while the mayor’s pay falls behind that of his counterparts in cities like Calgary and Edmonton.
Council has passed on proposed increases in the past and executive committee member Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong expects that will happen again.
"I think the reality is, those who support and advocate on behalf of a salary increase may not be around to enjoy it after the election," Minnan-Wong said.
The staff report does give the option of allowing a small cost of living increase, usually around two per cent, which Davis said she supports.
"I think a cost of living increase is a fair way to go and we ought to just stick with that," she said.
Coun. Peter Milczyn doesn't expect the report to get out of committee.
A pay raise would be "politically toxic" at any time, no less so with an election coming in October, Milczyn said. "But the staff followed the policy that exists. They provided the information and we’ll simply receive it and file it away."