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No pay increase for Cochrane's next mayor or members of council

The mayor and council have made the fiscally-accountable decision to not support a pay increase for the Town of Cochrane’s next elected officials.
Town of Cochrane
Town of Cochrane

The mayor and council have made the fiscally-accountable decision to not support a pay increase for the Town of Cochrane’s next elected officials.

At present, the mayor’s position offers a yearly remuneration of $66,690, while council members receive $25,724.

The Mayor and Council Remuneration Task Force made several suggestions to council during their regular meeting on Nov. 13, proposing the mayor’s salary be increased to $80,510 and councillors to $27,100.

Justification behind the pay increase was based on the time the mayor is expected to commit to his/her position and like-communities in the Calgary area.

The mayor of Canmore (pop. 12,288) currently makes $72,000, an equal amount as the mayor of Okotoks (pop. 24,511). By comparison, the mayor of Banff (pop. 7,584) pulls in $37,000 after receiving a recent increase.

Coun. Jeff Toews’ feelings on the matter summed up how many felt about the situation.

“At a time where our financial position is being stretched to its limit, all town departments need to tighten their belts,” said Toews. “Council needs to lead by example and not take a pay increase, and we need to work hard to continue to come up with options to keep taxes down.”

From a somewhat different perspective, though he was not in favour of council members getting additional remuneration, Coun. Ross Watson did believe the mayor – particularly with an increase in demand and the growing need for what he called a ‘full-time’ mayor – should be offered a respectable salary to encourage quality applicants.

Watson felt the task force’s recommended increase of nearly $15,000 was too high, and that somewhere in the $7,000 range would be more appropriate.

McBride did confirm that when one looks at the salary for mayors throughout the Calgary region, Cochrane’s was on the ‘lower side.’

The debate continued during budget deliberations on Nov. 15 at the RancheHouse. The final decision was to leave the next mayor’s and council members’ salaries at the level they currently are. The next municipal election is scheduled to take place in Oct. 2013.

Another consensus council members found themselves in was to move their regular meeting times back to 1 p.m.

Following a suggestion the task force had provided to them on Nov. 13, all council members said they preferred the 1 p.m. start to their current 6 p.m. time, as 12-15 hour workdays did not go hand-in-hand with sharp decision-making.

Coun. Joann Churchill said the late meetings after a workday can lead to tiredness, exhaustion and members not paying full attention to the issues at hand.