Nova Scotia

Halifax councillors vote to tie salaries to industrial average

Halifax council voted Tuesday to link salary increases to Nova Scotia's industrial wage average, replacing a policy that linked it to council salaries in other municipalities.

New rules mean if industrial average in province falls, council salaries would be frozen

Halifax councillors are looking into a transitional allowance for councillors who lose elections or don't reoffer. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax council voted Tuesday to link salary increases to Nova Scotia's industrial wage average, replacing a policy that linked it to council salaries in other municipalities.

Coun. Waye Mason said the old formula was outdated. A 3.5 per cent raise would put city politicians at the same rate as provincial politicians, he added.

"One of the clear and present political dangers is that we'll get paid more than MLAs," said Mason. "I think that is not politically tenable."

The new formula considers what Nova Scotians are making. If the industrial average falls, councillor wages would be frozen.

Change coming this fall

Coun. Steve Adams wanted to adopt the formula, but not use it until after the 2020 election.

"No matter what we do we are going to be wrong, I guarantee it," said Adams.

"I am going to try my very best to be as less wrong as possible."

His proposal was rejected, as was Coun. Russell Walker's idea to base salary increases on the consumer price index.

The change will take effect in November.

Transition allowance

Council also asked municipal staff to talk to the province about giving councillors a three-month transition allowance if they lose an election or decide not to reoffer.

Coun. Tim Outhit didn't like that idea.

"At a time when we're trying to be in touch with those we serve — many who don't have pensions or severance — this does look like feathering our nests," he said.

MLAs and MPs get a transition allowance.

Council also made it so mayors and councillors who are 71 or older, and therefore can't join the municipal retirement plan, can now contribute to a non-registered retirement program. The municipality will match contributions.

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