City of Windsor approves $5K pay increase for councillors starting next year

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Windsor city council voted in favour of a pay increase to councillors following recommendations from a review committee. Some councillors and the committee suggested the pay raise would help diversify those going for the job.  (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)
Windsor city council voted in favour of a pay increase to councillors following recommendations from a review committee. Some councillors and the committee suggested the pay raise would help diversify those going for the job. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)

Windsor, Ont., city councillors will get a pay bump of roughly $5,100 each starting next year.

The Council Compensation Review Committee recommended the increase, largely based on the number of hours the politicians are working, and council approved it during Monday's meeting.

The role is meant to be part time, but the hours being logged surpass that, according to the review. The increase would bring their annual income to $52,000. There was no pay raise recommended for the mayor's position, which comes with a salary of $199,167.

The increase was also suggested to attract a range of candidates to the role, but not everyone on council agreed with the bump.

Mayor Drew Dilkens pointed to the review committee's report, citing that on average, councillors would make about $6,000 more than comparative councils in nearby regions.

"This is not sitting well with me when I look at this and I don't think it's going to sit well with the majority of Windsorites," he said during a council meeting.

The mayor suggested that the city have a conversation about making councillor positions full time, instead of an 11 per cent pay raise.

Ward 6 Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac put forward a motion that council receive the review as informational, and said the existing part-time structure ensures diversity on the sitting council.

"I look at the makeup of our council today, we all knew what the makeup of compensation was ... it is and always has been a part-time position in our community," said Gignac, adding there's a broad diversity of council members from various employment backgrounds.

"It's good, it's good for decision-making because it represents what the community is."

Some councillors say people being left out

Ward 4 Coun. Chris Holt disagreed that council is as diverse as it could be.

"I know, and as many people around here do know, just how much time it takes to adequately do this job," said Holt, adding that as a full-time autoworker, the added council duties take up much of his time.

"I was willing to do that ... but I feel that that, in and of itself, sort of prequalifies who runs for this position."

Holt, who voted in favour of the pay increase and against Gignac's motion, said he was voting as a resident of his ward who would like to see different types of people apply for the job.

Jonathan Pinto/CBC
Jonathan Pinto/CBC

"If that's going to take increasing modestly the pay for that, so we can get some young people in here, we can get some single mothers in here that can afford daycare and additional daycare, I want the community I live in represented around the table and I don't think we're there yet."

Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin also did not support Gignac's motion, and countered the mayor's argument that comparatively, Windsor councillors are compensated higher than in other regions. Bortolin said Windsor has more standing committees that councillors are part of and may have more pressures due to the international border crossing, as was seen during the Ambassador Bridge blockade.

Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie also did not support Gignac's motion.

"I look around this table and I do see a table full of very talented folks who are trying to serve the community that they're in, but I think that people are missing," he said.

McKenzie said many he's spoken to who would be assets to council can't consider the work due to the compensation level.

Council votes to bump pay

Following the discussion, Councillors Jeewen Gill and Ed Sleiman as well as Dilkens supported Gignac's motion to accept the committee report as information. It did not carry, with Councillors Bortolin, Holt, McKenzie, Fabio Costante, Gary Kaschak and Jim Morrison opposed.

Coun. Fred Francis did not vote due to a conflict.

Bortolin put forward a motion that council adopt the committee's five recommendations in their report, which included the salary bump with no changes to benefits and a review of council compensation at the mid-point of the 2023-2026 council term.

That motion carried.

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