Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on February 2, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
City council approves 4.6% raise, mayor says it’s too much
After a long debate, Edmonton city council approved a 4.6% raise on Wednesday.
The 4.64% pay hike is a regularly scheduled one based on last year’s increase in Alberta’s average weekly earnings from September to September each year, calculated by Statistics Canada.
But many city councillors and the mayor, were not comfortable with the size of the wage increase.
“I think we sent the wrong message to our citizens,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said Wednesday. “Even though there’s a policy that we have in place… I think sometimes you have to bend those processes and this year we should have. I don’t support it.”
Councillor Jane Batty put forward a motion during the meeting that the increase be lowered to 1.5%.
“I think we need to be showing some leadership particularly in respect with we’re going to be working with a number of unions over the next number of months,” Batty said before putting the motion forward.
But the motion was shot down, with many councillors saying they shouldn’t be dictacting their raise.
Other motions including waiting until union settlements are completed,and a motion to receive no wage increase at all were also rejected.
Now it is up to the councillors to individually decide whether they will take the raise or not.
If they don’t, they also have the option to donate the money to charity or give it back to the city for tax deductions.
Mandel has said that he will not take the 4.6% raise, given the continued economic downturn.
Councillor Kerry Diotte, like others, have said they would not be taking the wage increase either.
Councillors currently earn $79,787 each year while a mayor’s salary is $144,061. Each month city council members are also given car allowances.
If councillors do decide to take the pay raise, they will be paid just over $83,000 annually.
Had Mandel accepted the 4.6% hike, he would have been earning roughly $150,000 a year.
In comparison, Calgary’s city council have already approved their 4.6% increase.
The system of annual wage increases was created in 2001.