Vote in January to rescind Cornwall council pay increase

Couns. Elaine MacDonald, left, and Maurice Dupelle, right, during a council meeting on Dec. 16, 2014. The two councillors were at odds over the timing of a new business item on rolling back a proposed wage increase -- a hot button item during the municipal election. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall councillors are expected to put the contentious issue of a double digit pay increase behind them next month.

Council agreed Tuesday afternoon during a special meeting to have a report come back for its Jan. 12 meeting with some more research on base pay.

The previous administration, under Mayor Bob Kilger, had voted in a massive pay increase which would bump the mayor’s salary from $63,100 to $75,000. Councillors’ pay would have gone from $18,000 to a little more than $25,000.

But Coun. Elaine MacDonald objected to the new business item saying she didn’t have enough time to be prepared to debate the issue.

“Something so serious as this we should have been given a lot more lead time,” she told fellow councillors, suggesting the matter was only in councillors’ hands a day or two before Tuesday’s meeting.

While Coun. MacDonald suggested better pay would attract more council hopefuls, Coun. Towndale challenged that argument suggesting 28 people running for 10 council seats in the October municipal election shows there’s interest.

Coun. Maurice Dupelle also retorted the motion had been handed in shortly after the last council meeting two weeks ago and had been signed off on Dec. 15.

Coun. Andre Rivette took another chance to defend the pay increase. “I agree with the way it’s been put forward. I’m not sorry that I voted for it. We’re not doing this for the money. Let’s not go around saying councillors are being greedy (because) that’s bull!”

City CFO Maureen Adams told council that, based on the previous two terms, pay increases have been indexed to inflation (or the Consumer Price Index (CPI)), and the talk around the council table would suggest the majority may lean in that direction for future pay increases.

Couns. Mark MacDonald and Bernadette Clement want the issue closed. “We have bigger fish to fry,” said MacDonald.

A report will come back Jan. 12 where a debate and vote will take place.

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