DUNMORE, AB – Pocketbooks of Cypress County councillors grew on Tuesday, with council voting 6-3 in favour of an pay hike for the next council term.
Rates for councillors will grow from $600 to $1,000 per month, while Reeve Darcy Geigle’s salary will go from $775 per month to $1,400 per month.
Councillor Dustin Vossler said the previous wage was so low, some days it was hard to stop the combines and drive to Dunmore.
“We we look at coming in here at our current wage, it doesn't make a whole bunch of sense for me to stop my day for $225, when me hiring someone to replace me is going to probably cost me more than that.”
Geigle along with councillors Garry Lentz and Ernest Mudie voted against the motion on Tuesday.
Mudie said he feels strongly about how the public will see the move.
“I feel like I get paid fairly well. We talk about restraint and not spending tax dollars, and it doesn't look that good when you spend it on yourself.”
Daily rates will be increased by $25 to $250 per day, while the overnight allowance will hold steady at $30 per evening.
Original recommendations included larger pay raises, with the initial recommendation proposing a $750 jump for councillors and a $1,075 hike for the reeve.
With an election on the horizon, Mudie said this is the wrong time to make this decision.
“A previous government issues a whole bunch of spending stuff and then leaves the other council stuck with it. I think a new council should decide how much they want to be paid.”
Vossler on the other hand said the optics always look bad, regardless of when the pay increase kicks in.
“It's a lose-lose situation either way. It looks bad when a council does it before an election, but it looks really bad when a new council coming in gives themselves a raise too.”
In a study of other rural municipalities, Cypress County determined their council earned just 66% of the provincial average.
Ward Seven councillor Richard Oster added this move will hopefully attract more candidates for the October election.
“There will be some people out there that will look at this, that it could be a part-time income, a part-time job. And, they will step up to the plate and join us.”
The increase will be covered through taxpayer funded municipal reserves, but will account for less than 1% of Cypress County’s budget.
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