Council approves pay cut for mayor, keeps transition allowance

City council gave the citizen volunteers on a committee that reviewed council's compensation a rough ride at Monday's meeting. At one point, Coun. Brian Pincott suggested they submitted a "bad report."

Citizen committee takes heat on council floor for suggesting some changes

Coun. Brian Pincott was highly critical of a report on salary recommendations prepared by a citizen committee. (CBC)

Calgary city council gave the citizen volunteers on a committee that reviewed council's compensation a rough ride at Monday's meeting.

At one point, Coun. Brian Pincott suggested they submitted a "bad report."

The five-person committee made several suggestions but not all of them were approved by council.

The recommendation for a six-per-cent cut in the mayor's pay after this fall's election was accepted.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who is away in Toronto, missed the meeting but said previously he has no problem with the roll-back.

Staying out of annual pay debate

Council also approved continuing to tie future salary adjustments to the annual report on Albertans' average weekly earnings (AWE).

The 2016 edition of that report resulted in a 2.5 per cent wage roll-back for city council for this year.

The committee had suggested council should vote each year on whether to accept the results of the AWE report.

Coun. Shane Keating said council had previously decided to stay out of whether to accept or reject salary adjustments and that's why it has a citizen committee select the method for setting their pay.

"If we're going to not decide our salary, then we don't decide our salary in all cases. Not when we pick and choose," said Keating.

Council rejected taking an annual vote on the salary adjustments.

Transition allowance to stay

The politicians also rejected a proposal that they do away with their transition allowance.

The committee felt that council members can adequately prepare for life after politics if they choose to retire. If they're defeated at the polls, that was likened to a firing — and not many people who get terminated get a severance.

City council gave the citizen volunteers on a committee that reviewed council's compensation a rough ride at Monday's meeting. (CBC)

Some councillors felt the committee doesn't understand the work done by elected officials.

Coun. Peter Demong criticized the notion that councillors don't need a transition allowance because they can build up networks of contacts while they're in office and then use those networks to land a job after they leave office.

'I think this is a bad report'

Another councillor was more blunt.

"I think this is a bad report," said Pincott, who is not seeking re-election in Ward 11 this fall.

"They didn't even look at why we moved away from council voting on our salaries every year. They didn't actually look at the challenges that elected officials face when they leave the job and the unemployability of a city councillor when they leave the job."

City council voted 11-1 against abandoning the transition allowance. Only Coun. Sean Chu wanted to scrap it.

That allowance sees current council members get two weeks pay for every year they serve on city council. The payment is to help support them while they search for a job after leaving office.

Committee chair unfazed

The chair of the council compensation review committee, Chai Son, said the members anticipated some of their work would not be accepted by council.

"Compensation is a relatively emotional topic and so we did see that today," said Son.

Chai Son, council compensation review committee chair, says the reaction to the report isn’t personal. (CBC)

As for whether the citizen volunteers felt roughed up by the questions posed by council, she said they could take it.

"Our committee is comprised with a lot of professional people. We have human resource colleagues, legal colleagues and business colleagues. None of us take it personally."

The recommendations approved by council will take effect after this October's municipal election.