Algonquin Highlands taxpayers have gotten some insight into how much they are spending on council as compared to similarsized townships.

Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. presented an elected officials’ remuneration review final report to council during a Sept. 2 meeting.

The firm’s Jane Mizanski said the report was aimed at assessing the competitiveness of compensation. It also informs the township about attracting municipal candidates and whether their compensation reflects the responsibilities, time commitment and accountability of the positions.

The consultants looked at base pay, per diems, eligible expenses and other things such as benefits and pensions.

A comparison was made to North Frontenac, Perry, North Kawartha, Lake of Bays, Highlands East, Hastings Highlands, Trent Lakes, Minden Hills and Bracebridge.

They found the mayor’s remuneration is competitive to the market average, while the deputy mayor and councillors are a bit above.

They noted at .45 per kilometre, the township falls short of most others which compensate mileage at .55 per kilometre. It noted the council gets health and dental benefits. As for technology, the mayor and deputy mayor get cell phones.

The report concluded, “Overall the Township practices for benefits and other expenses is aligned to most of the market comparators, with the exception of per kilometre rates and technology supports where the Township is below the comparator group offerings. In terms of base remuneration for each of the three positions [mayor, deputy mayor and councillors] the Township is competitive with the market median.”

It suggested annual pay adjustments equal to staff positions; increasing mileage reimbursement to .55 per kilometre for the first 5,000 km then .45; and exploring cost effective options to provide all elected officials with technology support either through direct purchase (and return of laptop or buy out at end of term) or a once per term stipend for newly-elected members (returning members receive the stipend only once).

Mayor Carol Moffatt noted that with the pandemic, councillors are not driving a lot and some are using landlines, but the suggestions are good going forward.

Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said she was “delighted” to see Algonquin Highlands was “right smack in the middle. It’s a good space to be in and provides confidence for us.” She said she would prefer a stipend to put towards technology, such as internet and software costs since how council business is being conducted has changed.

Deputy mayor Liz Danielsen agreed it was good to see that the council was in the middle of what people are paying. She agreed with taking a look at mileage reimbursement and stipends for technology.

Coun. Julia Shortreed said members of the committee of adjustment are doing a lot of driving and supported examining a mileage increase.

A staff report will come back to a future council meeting.

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