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LETTER: Stretch for municipal politicians to say they're underpaid

Tiny's mayor, deputy mayor and councillors generally receiving $10,000 more than comparable office holders and in many cases substantially more, reader says
2022-05-17 typing pexels-donatello-trisolino-1375261
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. The following letter is in response to the story Council remuneration 'not a living wage', Tiny mayor says published on Feb. 13.

I have, over our many decades, interacted with municipal councils, from small rural communities where your appearance was an event, to appearing before Toronto City Council. In my observations, the public interest is best served, workload notwithstanding, when the motivation to be on Council is public service, not money or a job for life.

While your observation is correct in that the people who normally run for council are older, many younger people with busy lives often contribute countless unpaid hours to overseeing sports activities and charitable efforts. 

The recent release of Council remunerations, required to be released before March 31 by the Ontario Municipal Act, provides some very interesting insights relevant to Mayor David Evans' complaint. 

In Tiny Township, Mayor Evans received total compensation from Tiny Township and Simcoe County in the amount of $84,723.81. Deputy Mayor Sean Miskimins received a total compensation of $72,314.98 from the same sources. Pretty good pay for a part-time job. The average compensation for the three Councillors was just over $46,000.00 each.

For comparison purposes, Penetanguishene Mayor Doug Rawson and Deputy Mayor Dan LaRose received $69,784.13 and $57,140.71 respectively for their same municipal and county council roles. The average Penetanguishene councillor's remuneration is just over $26,000.

Similarly, for the Town of Midland, Mayor Gordon's 2023 total compensation from the Town and County was $75,074.26 and Deputy Mayor Contin received $51,521.64. Deputy Mayor Contin may be somewhat lower than expected as he passed away suddenly in November 2023. Average councillors' remuneration for 2023 was just over $30,000.

In Tay Township, Mayor Ted Walker received total compensation from Tay and the County of Simcoe of $60,930.51 and Deputy Mayor Barry Norris received $51,960,94. All five Tay councillors received the same compensation in the amount of $24,861.36.

Another comparable would be Clearview Township, also in Simcoe County, where Mayor Doug Measures received total remuneration locally and from the County in the amount of $68,138.62. Deputy Mayor Paul Van Staveren received $52,138.16. The average councillor remuneration for the five councillors was $28,567. For anyone interested, similar information for a wide number of Ontario municipalities is available on-line by typing in: "Council remuneration 2023."

An examination of Tiny Township and the surrounding municipalities, some of which have more complex operations, certainly indicates to me, that far from being under-paid, Mayor Evans, Deputy Mayor Miskimins and even the remaining councillors, are generally receiving remuneration at a level at least $10,000 higher than comparable office holders, and, in many cases, substantially higher.

A review of Statistics Canada's information on the 2021 Census puts the truth to the popular misconception that everyone living in Tiny Township is well off. The statistics show that for 2020, the average total income was $53,750, the mean total income was $41,600 and the average after tax income was $44,680. Also, on the County of Simcoe's "Municipal Fact Sheet",  in Tiny Township, the median household income (2016) was $69,915.

Hopefully, a committee of fair and objective minded citizens, not hand-picked by individuals with self-interests, will properly study, compare and determine that our politicians are currently being compensated for service, not only fairly, but generously.

Ted Phelps