London

London councillors approve a 2.3 per cent pay raise -- for themselves

Some on council admit the optics aren't great, but still voted 9-6 to support a staff recommendation that calls for a 2.3 per cent pay raise for politicians in 2019.
London city council voted to go ahead with increasing their pay by 2.3 per cent this year. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

London city council voted Tuesday to stick with a plan that will give them and the mayor a 2.3 per cent pay increase this year, an indexed increase that was called for two years ago after an independent review of council remuneration.

The following increases were approved for this year and are retroactive to Jan. 1:

  • The mayor's pay rises to $141,200 from $138,025.
  • Pay for councillors will rise to $52,368 from $51,181.

The pay raise passed by a 9-6 vote with Mayor Ed Holder and the following members of council opposed:

  • Phil Squire.
  • Josh Morgan.
  • Steve Lehman. 
  • Paul Van Meerbergen.
  • Steven Hillier.

The vote reverses a decision by the corporate services committee, which voted against going ahead with the annual increase this year. 

The raise was called for by a compensation review task force that in 2017 recommended raising councillor salaries from to $51,181 from $36,000.

That pay rate was based on the median income in 2015 of full-time London residents. It took effect when the current council began its term in December 2018. That same review also called for annual increases to be indexed to either the labour index or the consumer price index, whichever is lower. In this case, it's the was the consumer price index that was used.

Awkward spot for councillors

Some councillors who spoke in favour of keeping the increase admitted it was an awkward and unpopular position to take. 

Coun. Steven Turner said although there's an "inherent conflict" in councillors setting their own pay, "there's nobody else to set it for us, so we have to do it." 

He said indexing the annual pay raises was an attempt to "de-politicize" the compensation decision.

"If we raise the compensation for councillors, it's not going to look good but it's never going to look good," he said. "Ever."

Coun. Shawn Lewis said following the model of indexed annual salary increases avoids the perennial debate. 

"We've created a policy that makes sense and is based on some metrics," he said. "I think if we don't stick to that policy now, we're just opening the door to have this discussion again next year, and the year after, and the year after," he said. 

Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen said the increase was too much and will come too soon after the most recent pay raise. 

"There was a bump up and now there's going to be a second bump up, basically in the same year," he said. "And the people who pay that bill aren't getting that same two-phase bump up. This is not the time to be slavishly devoted to some formula the previous council came up with." 

About the Author

Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.

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