Council Pay Dominated Oxford Council
A light agenda greeted Oxford Town Councillors at their first meeting of the year last night, but one topic sparked a fair amount of discussion.
A review of the honoraria paid to councillors, the Deputy Mayor, and Mayor revealed that Oxford's municipal representatives are among the lowest - if not the lowest paid - elected officials in Nova Scotia.
Mayor Trish Stewart — who is not re-offering in October's elections — says it’s been twenty years since the honoraria have been increased. She says in the last town elections there were too few candidates, suggesting the amount given to councillors should be increased.Stewart says it's an uncomfortable topic, but that anyone who worked for twenty years would expect some kind of increase.
At present, the mayor is paid $9,010 per year, while the Deputy Mayor and councillors receive $4,085. Council was considering a proposal to raise the honoraria to $14,500 for the mayor, $10,000 for the deputy, and $8,900 for councillors which would still be less than comparable communities but lifting Oxford from the bottom of the list.
Councillor Brenton Colborne spoke against raising Oxford's stipends to levels matching other communities, saying it's too much money, but he does support increasing the amount given to the deputy mayor position, in recognition of the workload.
Councillor Dave Clarke agreed that it's a long time to go without an increase, and the current honorarium doesn't encourage people to run for council.
Councillor Dawn Thompson, who is also not re-offering in October, says it should be up to the next elected council to take up the issue, but Mayor Stewart suggested that newly-elected members would not want to be seen raising their pay as their first act in office.
Councillor Wade Adshade opposed the idea, saying more money doesn't necessarily give you better politicians. He suggested tying an annual raise in the honorarium to the cost of living index, about two percent per year in line with town staff. Raising Oxford's rates to match those of other town councils is not something Adshade would support.
Deputy Mayor Rick Draper says he would support raising the honorarium by a small amount, but only after the state of the town's finances is determined in the spring.
Council agreed to defer the matter until April, when the next budget would be discussed.
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