THUNDER BAY - In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Thunder Bay city councillors have decided to forgo an annual remuneration increase, saving the city $4,900.
The motion was passed during a city council meeting Monday night to forgo the annual adjustment of half the rate of inflation for 2020.
The amendment to the original motion to grant the remuneration hike was proposed by Mayor Bill Mauro.
“I think this is simple and straightforward for council,” Mauro said. “It’s a small amount of money. It sends a symbolic message to the community. We need to be willing to make some decisions that in some years we may not. This is consistent with that.”
The increase will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020.
While the motion passed unanimously, several councillors said this is a one-time decision and hope it does not set the stage for forgoing the remuneration in future years.
“Council needs to show a leadership role in this,” said Coun. Rebecca Johnson. “I put this forward for this year and I respect that. It took us a long time for us to get a process in place for council remuneration and I do not want to see this in any way go backward. For one year, I am in favour this. In the long-term, we have to be very careful of this process.”
Neebing Coun. Cody Fraser raised similar concerns, saying he does not want to see this as something that occurs on a yearly basis.
“I fully support it this year,” he said. “I am hesitant going forward. I don’t want this to be used a political piece going forward. It is not a lot of money. I don’t want it to be where we never get a raise. I think you are missing out on some good candidates that would run.”
The council remuneration advisory committee presented a report to council in 2018 stating the annual remuneration of half the rate of inflation for the city of Thunder Bay take effect on January 1, 2020.
The last analysis of council remuneration was completed in 2008, where councillors received an increase from $26,342 to $27,000 and the mayor an increase from $70,000 to $80,000.
Council also passed a motion to forgo wage increases for non-union managerial employees in 2020.
In addition, the motion also states that as of October 1, 2020, non-affiliated pay schedule steps below the Ontario minimum wage be increased.