Bylaw must be defeated

Much has been spoken in the last week regarding the resolution—supported by the mayor and three councillors—to include a full set of health benefits to the remuneration package of members of council.
Councilors are elected officials. They serve at the will of the electorate and are not considered full-time employees.
Last August, the council of the time raised the mayor’s salary from $18,094 to $22,322 and the councillors’ salary from $10,171 to $10,507, effective on Dec. 1, 2003 for the incoming council. They felt it was a fair salary, and was higher than the average salary of either a mayor or councillor when compared to similar-sized communities.
The average comparison for a mayor’s salary is $19,348 while the average comparison for a councillor’s salary is $9,071.
The council also dropped the benefits package with the stipulation that councillors could purchase those benefits from their salary if they wanted to. They were following the example of other communities across Ontario which do not offer any benefits to their elected councils.
Any amendment to that bylaw would make the benefit retroactive to Dec. 1, 2003.
One-third of every mayor and councillor’s salary is tax-free. That is part of the provincial and federal tax laws. That, too, is a benefit.
In Fort Frances, the community contributes to the OMERS pension plan for the mayor and council, which provides them with a pension upon their retirement. That, too, is a benefit.
It remains unclear that money has been allocated in this year’s budget for council health care benefits. Funds were allocated for other benefits the municipality is required to pay, such as Canada Pension Plan, Ontario Health Tax, OMERS, and WSIB for the mayor and council.
We believe the mayor and council are well-compensated as elected officials. As such, the current push to amend the bylaw that set council’s remuneration should be defeated.