Kirkland approves pay hike for members of council

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.

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One Response to Kirkland approves pay hike for members of council

  1. Failure to launch…Honesty, Integrity & Transparency by Mayor Michel Gibson

    You want to find out how your Mayor and municipal local councilor voted on the issue of the 20% + salary increase to the Mayor & Councilors? You don’t know who your Municipal Councilor is or if you do, you have never met him, never got a phone call, letter, email or return phone call to your complaint or idea, then I invite you to click on LIKE here, pick-up your phone and call me at (514) 630-6116 or email me at info@daniellatour.com for my response within 24 hours.

    At the regular sittings of the Mayor & Council of the Town of Kirkland, outside of municipal employees, public security agents, journalists and guests, on average less than 10 local residents are in attendance. Now with your letters and emails of support we can propose before the next regular public meeting of the Town of Kirkland on May 5th a pilot project for the live netcast of regular sittings of the Mayor & Councillors. By granting permission to netcast LIVE! from the Town of Kirkland Council Chambers, all registered subscribers who loggin to the live netcast via the internet from the Town of Kirkland website, http://www.ville.kirkland.qc.ca would have the best local show in town when produced by a local non-profit organization such as the CKC-Citoyens Kirkland Citizens, http://www.facebook.com/ckcpartidesvoisins with the monthly live netcast supported by local merchants and donors that support democracy in action and help us to raise local funds for local charities and non-profit community groups.

    You want things to change, you have to show up at regular council meetings to meet your local Mayor and Municipal Councillor for your neighbourhood and stand with me to ask your local Mayor during Question Period how you want our municipal government representatives to vote on motions and proposals and to ask your questions on how and why they vote the way they have and will on issues that are important to you and to make the Town of Kirkland a better place to live, a future city.

    I work on commission, bonus and overrides as my compensation for what I do best as a Personal Financial Advisor-Independent Insurance Broker and Group Benefits Consultant.

    I am not a public sector employee earning a more than average salary for hours worked at the Kirkland Town Hall with such employee benefits as group life insurance, prescription medications, ambulance, hospital stays, access to health service providers, major dental plus benefits, long term disability insurance and a pension plan that is 75% funded by the Town of Kirkland taxpayers as is most likely the employee benefit plan negotiated by the Mayor & Council over the 20 years that Michel Gibson has been in public office.

    To add insult to injury, Mayor Gibson and Councillors have access to a laptop, internet services and a budget for personal expenses paid for by taxpayers of up to how many more thousands of dollars per year?

    I for one like so many residents commented on this divisive issue over the past two months and question the promise of honesty, integrity and transparency of Mayor Gibson under his leadership of our municipal council as the 20% salary hike is for far too many residents as over the top and undeniably unjustifiable considering that there was never an open discussion or campaign on the issue of compensation of our elected representatives at the Kirkland Town Hall prior to the vote of November 2013.

    Too late to do anything about it now for at least another 4 years? With your support, I propose that the 20% + salary increase be held in a blind trust administered by a third party administrator of public funds until the official start of the next municipal election.

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