Nothing shabby about these salaries. But the schedules and the demands on their personal lives take their toll.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 17, 2012  The city’s budget will go to Council Monday evening and you will know before you go to bed what your taxes are going to be for 2012 .  On the city side you are looking at an increase of about 3.25% – it might climb a little higher if at the Council meeting your elected members get soft and slip in a few extras.  Sound of Music is still hoping that they will get the $17,000 they have asked for – Jack Dennison, Ward 4 council member, seemed to be onside for this one.

The Sound of Music people have a good case, it just wasn’t put forward all that well.  They are close to the best investment the city has in terms of bringing people to the city to spend, certainly worth more than what we are spending to bring people to Burlington to soak up the culture of the city.  No offence intended to the Art Centre or the Museum – the SOM is just a better business deal.

The Municipal Act requires that a report go to Council setting out what was paid to Council members and appointees to local boards.  We have added to those numbers what our guys get paid by the Region to give you the total cost to the taxpayers for their Regional and Municipal elected representatives.

This magnificent seven cost tax payers close to $1 million each year. Are we getting value for money? Actually we are, for the most part these men and woman are worth more than we are paying them. They more than earn what they get.

You, the voters get to decide if they are worth what they are getting paid.  Most of the Council members are worth every dollar they get and then some.  Others are not giving you value for money you are paying them.

In the figures we set out below we do not include mileage and other expenses council members are paid for – these are part of the cost of doing business and we don’t see those at part of the benefit package.

Each Council member has the opportunity to contribute to the pension program used by municipalities in Ontario (OMERS, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Service)

                                                Salary +                              Mileage +            TOTAL

Mayor Goldring                                $120,015.            $17,222                $137,237

Region Goldring                               $48,706                                              $48,706.

TOTAL salary and benefits            $168,721

Councillor Craven – Ward 1           $51,169                $5,368                  $56,987

Region Craven                                  $48,706                $777.67                $52,281

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,875

Councillor Meed Ward – Ward 2      $51,224                $5,552                  $56,987

Region Meed Ward                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930

Councillor Taylor – Ward 3            $51,169.                       $6,532                  $58,151

Region Taylor                                   $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,875

Councillor Dennison – Ward 4       $50,142                $7,749                  $57,891.

Regional Dennison                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $98,948

Councillor Sharman- Ward 5         $51,224                $7,532                  $58.756.

Regional Sharman                            $48,706.

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930

Councillor Lancaster- Ward 6       $51,224                $5,452                  $56,676.

Regional Lancaster                          $48,706

TOTAL salary and benefits            $99,930.

The variation in salary and benefits is due to individual benefit coverages.

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Are your elected officials worth close to $100,000 a year?  They are.   There are a lot of people on staff at city hall who earn a lot more than the Council members.  The six Councillors are at many evening meetings that run to well past 10 pm and they each hold community events.  They may not have to be out the door at 9 am every morning but they put in long hours and have to put up with more nuisance calls to their homes than most of us would tolerate.

If we didn’t know him better we would say the Mayor is addicted to going to public events – he`s not addicted, he just sees the hundreds of public events as places he should appear and he does.

Councillor Tayor getting a well earned smile from a meeting facilitator. Taylor puts everything he has and then some into his job

These elected officials attend conferences that are fully paid for by the public..  When Mayor Goldring went to Portland, Oregon he attended a family event in Vancouver and paid for that portion of the trip out of his own pocket.

Conference expenses for each were as follow and while they are included in remuneration by the Region we did not include those monies in our listing.  They were working out of the city on behalf of the city and those costs get covered.

What isn’t reported by the city are the fees paid to the Mayor by Burlington Hydro.  As Mayor he sits on the Board of Directors and is paid a fee of $600. per Board meeting and $300 for each committee meeting he attends.  One board meeting each month and at least one committee each month nets the Mayor an additional $10,800 each year which at least one member of council calls  “double dipping” – Goldring is paid as Mayor to attend a meeting and is paid a fee as a Board member. Fair to the taxpayer  That’s for you to decide.

The Mayor gets out to every event he knows of and patiently explains what the city is doing.

While Burlington Hydro is a wholly owned subsidiary of the city to which it pays a significant dividend every year the actions and activities of Burlington Hydro are not publicly reported and your Council does not report to you on what Burlington Hydro has done other than what they pay in terms of a dividend.

Councillor Dennison on the left explaining an issue to a constituent.

We can tell you that Burlington Hydro is struggling with how to make the turbine that is part of the Pier design actually work.  The original intention was to have a wind turbine out on the pier that would power all the lights that will illuminate the Pier.  There appear to be some problems and there is talk of having batteries put in place to power the thing.  The “brains” over at hydro are “working” on this one.

In addition to salary each council member has a budget of $9,000. To cover meeting expenses, printing, postage and advertising.  At one point during her first year in office, Councillor Meed Ward came close to spending her allowance on postage – she got a little exuberant.   That $9,000 for each Council member  seems a little on the low side.  When you are at an event and coffee and treats are on the table – that`s coming out of the Council members budget.  Based on what I’ve seen at some events there are Council members picking up some of these costs out of their own pockets.

Each Council member is given a free parking spot right outside city hall.  Meed Ward chose not to accept this benefit even though city hall staff are given free parking.  During the budget deliberations Meed Ward tried to have this benefit ended – she couldn’t raise any support from her fellow Council members on that one so the tried to have the benefit phased out over three years.  She didn’t manage to get that one through either.  I don’t think she’s going to give up on this one.

The Mayor has a budget of $32,000 for the same kind of thing.  He is also given a leased vehicle for business use.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious; still in a 'learning mode'.

One would think that being both a municipal and a regional Councillor is a full time job but Councillors  Lancaster, Sharman and Dennison all have other work they do.  Lancaster owns a Spa in downtown Burlington and while it is professionally managed for her, she does nevertheless spend some of her time directing the operation.  Councillor Sharman keeps his hand in his profession by serving as the editor of a professional publication.  Councillor Dennison owns, operates and is heavily involved in the Cedar Springs Racquet and Health Club.   Dennison does put much of his prodigious energy into his Council work but one has to ask – how much can you stretch something and still call it useful?

Councillor Craven is the best Committee chair the city has. He did a superb job of getting Council through the budget deliberations quickly and efficiently. Is there higher office in his future?

Committee of adjustment members were paid the following:

David Kumar was paid a perdiem of $320 and car mileage of $110.

Esam Sarraf was paid a perdiem of $1,860 plus mileage of $386

Grant Newbury was paid a perdiem of $1,600 plus mileage of $207.

Malcolm Ramsay was paid a perdiem of $2,200 plus mileage of $282.

Peter Rusin was paid a perdiem of $560.

Peter Thoem was paid a perdiem of $1,620 plus mileage of $269.

Robert Bailey was paid a perdiem of $1,700 and mileage of $43.

The Ontario government has a policy that requires every municipality to report the name and amount of every person who is paid more than $100,000 each year.  The policy was created by the Mike Harris government an quickly became known as the “Sunshine list”.  It is released at the end of March and we will certainly pass those numbers along to you.





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