Sue Uteck wants a salary freeze at city hall. The south end Halifax city councillor says she will raise the issue at next Tuesday's council meeting. Uteck says she was surprised to learn this week she and other members of Halifax city council are in for a raise come November 1st. Councillor salaries will go up 1.6% to $72,357 while the mayor's wages go up 4% to $144,962. Nice work if you can get it. The increases are based on a formula that looks at what other municipalities in the country of similar size pay their municipal politicians. Uteck says she thought city hall salary hikes were going to be frozen for a year and intends to press that point at Tuesday's session. Good for her. Now let's see whether the other members of council will support her.
The formula used to determine council salaries was drawn up by a committee independent of city council and the mayor. It's time for a change. While it was prudent to take the matter out of the politicians' hands, the formula has guaranteed yearly raises for council members who seem more than willing to accept the increases without any debate. It's time to review how council salaries are determined. The formula does not take into account the state of the city's finances nor the job council does. It should. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for what it refers to as a "real" citizens' panel of randomly selected municipal taxpayers to set the salary levels. That too is a good idea.
London, Ontario's council by the way, rolled back their salaries by 5%. Imagine that.
Infrastructure Minister Bill Estabrooks says the province's demands on the proposed downtown Halifax convention centre are not cast in stone. City council's indicated it has problems with a couple of the province's demands, in particular it's desire to be exempt from paying municipal property taxes on the site. It would work out to roughly $1 million a year. Estabrooks says exempting the convention centre is something other jurisdictions. He says these and other points will be subject to the ongoing negotiations with the city. I get the sense however, the exemption could be a deal-breaker. Stay tuned!
The Mounties called residents from Olivia Court in Prospect to a meeting last evening to talk road hockey. Things have been tense among neighbours after one called the RCMP to complain about kids playing road hockey on the street in front of her home on the quiet cul-de-sac. The cops showed up and put an end to the game, even threatening to confiscate their gear if they continued to play. The neighbour who complained later claimed her house was subsequently egged and damage done to her car. While that was uncalled for, so was her call to the police about the game. If she had a problem, she should have first gone to her neighbours to discuss it. And this is Canada afterall, where road hockey is a national past-time. Or used to be anyway. Pity.
Have a great weekend. Get involved. And if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.