Councillors approve pay raises for next council

By Kirk Winter

City took, on average, 54 days to remedy complaints: Service review

By a 7-2 vote, Kawartha Lakes council approved increased pay to the incoming council from 2023-2026.

The increase approved will be the lower of either a flat two per cent yearly increase or the consumer price index for that calendar year.

Mayor Letham, deputy-mayor Tracy Richardson and councillors Pat Dunn, Doug Elmslie, Andrew Veale, Pat O’Reilly and Kathleen Seymour-Fagan voted in favour of the pay increase for the incoming council, with councillors Ron Ashmore and Emmett Yeo voting against.

“We can’t get away (from making a decision on) this,” Elmslie said. “No matter what we do it comes down to us about what remuneration for council should be. It would be nice if there was a third party that dictated this. Unfortunately, there is not.”

“Whatever we do we will be criticized for it because it is salary and it is council,” Elmslie said. 

Elmslie reminded fellow councillors that tying council remuneration to the consumer price index was a decision made by Kawartha Lakes council in 2009 after the new council structure had been in place eight years and councillors’ pay had been frozen that entire time.

“We chose at the time to use the CPI to keep the purchasing power of councillors’ salaries at the same level regardless of what happened (with inflation),” Elmslie said.

Elmslie proposed the pay increase that was eventually accepted by council calling it “a compromise that was fair to all parties.”

Dunn supported Elmslie’s motion.

“Whatever we do we are wrong. This is a compromise because I suggest in 2022 the CPI is going to be radically higher than it was,” Dunn said.

Ashmore spoke against the motion.

“I believe that increases should be held to one per cent. I didn’t become a councillor to ask for raises every year,” Ashmore said.

Ashmore said that these kind of council decisions “infuriate” voters.

“For me personally, it is fine the way that it is,” Ashmore said. “I am fortunate that I have this job. There are lots of people who have lost their jobs over the last two years. Half of us here have another business or another job. The other half have a pension to supplement their city salary. We don’t rely on this salary. When we do this, we irk people.”

Letham initially was going to speak against Elmslie’s motion fearing the wording was too complicated but, in the end, came around to supporting the motion that will guarantee councillors an increase beginning in 2023 and continuing for three years after that.

O’Reilly also spoke in favour of Elmslie’s motion.

“This job is a lot bigger than people realize,” O’Reilly said. “We take a lot of criticism for what we do. We all have 10,000 constituents now. This has become a very large job. If we want to attract good people who might want to do this fulltime, you want to pay a decent salary. This raise is not a huge swing.”

Currently, Kawartha Lakes councillors earn $48,068 per year.


  1. T. D'Arcy McGee says:

    It’s easy to vote against this proposal when you know it’s going to pass. It’s a good way to curry favor amongst the electorate in an election year.Will the 2 Councilors who voted against this raise refuse to accept it? Let’s wait & see.

  2. C. Wilson says:

    “If we want to attract good people who might want to do this fulltime, you want to pay a decent salary.”
    The battle cry of the greedy. In any other job, a raise has to be earned, and usually asked and argued for, on the basis of merit. And most of the time, not given even when the worker does earn it.

    How about giving us a list of what Council has achieved, and letting the public vote on whether they deserve a raise? Most employees today are not getting raises even based on the consumer price index, most employers have reduced hours and pay for their employees to make sure they avoid that. Certainly we don’t get a ‘vote’ on our own pay.

  3. Gene Balfour says:

    “Pay for performance” is an oxymoron in public service.
    “Pay for grief” is what they want. It seems that they believe that there is a price to be paid for accepting the level of grief to which they are willing to subject themselves by their 10,000 ward constituents.

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