Cobourg council raise is still on the table

By Cecilia Nasmith

The question over raises for Cobourg councillors, voted down by a four-to-three vote in May, is alive and well, following a vote at this week's meeting.

Councillor Nicole Beatty, who previously voted against a raise, made a motion that the matter be reconsidered after new information had come to light – a point on which she did not elaborate.

The vote to get the matter on the floor required a two-thirds majority. As Mayor John Henderson was late, explained Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin, that motion required four yes votes as that constituted the requisite two-thirds majority – had Henderson been present, she added, five votes in favour would have been required.

Henderson did show up within minutes of the debate beginning, having dropped the first puck of the season for the Cobourg Cougars, but not in time to vote on whether to put the matter back on the floor. As he voted against the raise in May (and again this week), it is likely he would have joined Councillors Brian Darling and Aaron Burchat in voting against it again and denied Beatty's motion its two-thirds majority - whereupon it would promptly have been defeated and the matter dropped again.

The motion returned to life was essentially the one previously voted down. It provided for consideration during the 2020 budget process of new salaries - $48,100 for the mayor, $38,480 for the deputy mayor and $33,670 for each councillor, with annual CPI adjustments – and a review of this salary structure during the third year of each council term.

Councillor Emily Chorley made an amendment, which passed, that council members of the Police Services Board would have their remunerations reviewed during budget deliberations as well, and that they would no longer be calculated as a percentage of established council salaries.

Burchat argued that councillors were too close to the issue to vote on it without some kind of third-party review.

Darling said he'd been comfortable, in his former term on council, in voting a raise for a subsequent term of council. But he had trouble voting himself a raise as a sitting councillor.

Similarly, he would have no trouble considering a raise in the third year of this term, as it would apply to the incoming council.

“I do believe the salary is fair,” Darling stated.

Henderson confessed he still had trouble supporting a raise.

“We may deserve a raise, but it's how we will provide that raise,” the mayor said.

“I do believe, as I think back, that we have already had a raise which we were not expecting, and we are getting annual CPI throughout the year.

“We may deserve this new amount, but I would just like a new method of determining that.”

Councillor Adam Bureau reminded his colleagues that debate was still to come on the matter during 2020 budget deliberations. And Seguin added that it was not a done deal until that stage of the debate was over.

Darling asked for a recorded vote on Beatty's motion. It broke down exactly as the vote in May turned out, except for Beatty voting in favour last week and against in May.