County of Haliburton councillors have opted to receive pay for cancelled meetings during the pandemic due to additional workloads.
At the Aug. 26 meeting, council discussed how staff kept up their per diem payments for the monthly committee of the whole meetings during the pandemic, even though the meetings were cancelled from April to July.
CAO Mike Rutter said council directed that pay continue as normal for staff and he applied that to council as well. He said he understood even though those meetings were not happening, councillors were working.
Warden Liz Danielsen said although there have not been committee of the whole meetings, the past few months have required more work than normal.
“I’m not complaining because it’s all been good work,” she said. “An awful lot more work in the last few months than I’ve ever done before. That probably stands for all of us.”
Although Coun. Carol Moffatt said she had discomfort getting paid for a meeting she did not attend, she decided she did not feel bad about taking the $80 per meeting.
“It’s important for us to acknowledge that, put that out there in the public forum,” Moffatt said. “We’ll keep the money in our bank accounts because of the amount of work we did, but acknowledge we’re not trying to rip off the taxpayer … We worked way harder than the $80 we get for a meeting we didn’t attend.”
Moffatt said no councillor is in the job for the money and it may be worth it to change pay.
“Just because we didn’t go to a meeting doesn’t mean we weren’t working,” Moffatt said. “It’s an opportunity to once again think about how much the positions are paid because they’re pretty darn poorly paid.”
Coun. Lisa Schell said Minden Hills councillors are paid on a salaried system which she said could be worth considering.
“It’s kind of just flat across the board, with the acknowledgement the job is technically – I don’t want to say 24/7 but it pretty much is,” Schell said. “My home is my office and my house phone rings constantly.”
Danielsen said councillors could individually work with staff to return part of their paycheques if they felt uncomfortable.