Albert Kramberger, The Gazette, April 10, 2014
Without any fanfare, Kirkland council gave final approval to a move that will see their salary increase by just over 20 per cent on Monday.
The mayor’s remuneration has been increased to $46,617 from the previous rate of $37,617, which is about a 24-per cent raise. The salaries of the eight councillors has increased to $16,388 each, representing a $3,000 hike from the old salary level.
The raises will be retroactive to Jan. 1, said Mayor Michel Gibson.
While none of the handful of residents who asked questions Monday broached the issue of the council raises, Gibson had to defend the increases last month following a notice of motion dealing with the move was tabled in February.
As part of the new salary rates, it was also announced the town would not provide the mayor with a vehicle which had previously been the case when John Meaney was still mayor.
Gibson said the raises are justified, pointing out the new rates are in line with what other similar-sized municipalities pay their councils.
He added he only considered the rates paid to demerged municipal councils on the island, adding Montreal rates for its elected officials are too outrageously high for him to use as a comparison.
“We were basically in the pack between everybody who has between 18,000 and 25,000 in population,” he said. “I know it will always come back to that 20-per-cent increase, but if you look at what it really represents per month, per paycheque, per councillor. It amounts to approximately $90 per two weeks net in their pocket. So it’s not exaggerated. It’s an adjustment that had to be done at one point.”
Gibson recalled he had received a salary of almost $46,000 when he was a city councillor with Montreal when Kirkland was a borough within the mega-city for one term about a decade ago.
Gibson added councillors are not paid extra to sit on any subcommittees or to act as the pro-mayor.
For instance, he said the town planning committee has met about five times in the past month.
“It’s justification of the work and hours spent compared to what a councillor was doing 10 or 15 years ago,” Gibson said of salary raises.
Gibson noted the Union of Quebec Municipalities has a workshop planned at its May convention addressing the ever-increasing duties and demands facing council members.
“It’s time the provincial government look at the overall situation,” he said of provincial guidelines governing municipalities.
Gibson, a longtime councillor, beat Meaney, who was first elected mayor in 1994, in the Nov. 3 election.
Aside from annual cost-of-living increases based on inflation, the previous salary raises approved for Kirkland council were set in 2010 when the rate for the mayor’s job went up by about six per cent to $35,110 and the councillors pay jumped by about 19 per cent to $12,492.
Kirkland has about 21,150 residents and a $57-million budget this year.