Massive council pay hike dumped for COL increase

Coun. Carilyne Hebert, pictured here during a December 2014 budget meeting, said the consultant-backed increase by the last council was the wrong increase at the wrong time. But Coun. Hebert isn't ruling out revisiting the issue down the road. Council voted Jan. 12, 2015 to rescind the increase in favour of cost-of-living increases. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall councillors have dumped a consultant-backed massive pay increase voted in by the last council.

Instead, they will be receiving cost-of-living (COL) increases during their term, which are indexed to the consumer price index (CPI).

Generally the inflationary rate is around two per cent.

But a couple of councillors – Andre Rivette and Mark MacDonald – wanted to take it a step further, suggesting no increase at all during the entire four years.

“You want to do something? Go to zero,” said Rivette, referring to the tough times ahead for the 2015 budget. “Set the example, go to zero.”

MacDonald and Rivette, along with Coun. Elaine MacDonald and Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy voted against the COL increase proposal.

“(We are paid) lower than what we make on minimum wage. None of us needs the money,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald said, prompting a chuckle from Coun. Rivette. “Frankly, we’re out of step,” she said.

Coun. Brock Frost, who is donating his salary to charity, conceded the salary was “terribly low” but was tired of debating the issue.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert said the increase voted in last year – which boosted councillors’ salaries from $15,402 to $25,600 and the mayors paycheque to $74,600 – was the “wrong increase and the wrong time” but suggested the matter could be revisited halfway through the term.

Like many others saying they are fulfilling a campaign promise, Coun. Claude McIntosh said we should be looking at other things Cornwall is behind the curve compared to other municipalities. “Have you looked at the average household income? We are way behind in that as well,” he said.

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