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Independent citizens committee may decide town councillor pay

by Keith Corcoran

 BRIDGEWATER - An independent citizens group may decide what civic politicians in this town are paid.

 Deputy Mayor David Walker said he hopes the decision about whether or not councillors deserve a salary increase will be taken out of the hands of civic politicians.

 He'd like to steer away from the historically routine procedure that sees council voting on remuneration based on recommendations in a report from the town's chief administrative officer. The report generally compares what councils in similar-sized municipalities are paid.

 "I've never felt comfortable voting myself a pay increase," the deputy mayor said during a January 4 council briefing.

 Deputy Mayor Walker wants to establish a committee to specifically examine setting rates for the new administration when it's sworn in after the 2012 municipal election.

 "Having an ad hoc committee that's independent would be more transparent and would provide public input into what the remuneration for council should be," he told this newspaper after the briefing.

 Staff would draft policy first and then a committee comprised potentially of senior and youth representatives, the business community and former civic politicians could be formed.

 Pay could hinge on market conditions, the town's financial situation and other criteria, the deputy mayor said. Council would then adopt a report with binding recommendations.

 Deputy Mayor Walker couldn't say with certainty if he felt he and other councillors are paid well enough.

 "I think we're paid reasonably for what we do," he said.

 Councillors make around $17,000 per year, while the deputy mayor rakes in roughly $20,000 and the mayor earns about $30,000.

 "I think the job is not getting easier," the deputy mayor added.

 "It's getting more difficult. I don't think we're overpaid. I'm not sure we're underpaid."

 He said one of the goals of the process is to ensure the new council is made aware from an independent source what the pay will be.

 Council is expected to discuss the matter in more detail this week.



posted on 01/11/11
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