Kneehill County councillors cut their own pay

·3 min read

After months of discussions, Kneehill County councillors approved giving themselves a pay cut at their regular council meeting March 9.

At a January council meeting councillors talked about giving themselves a pay cut as a show of moral support for possible other cuts that may be included in the 2021 budgeting process.

Kneehill councillors have been vocal in pointing out a number of lost revenue sources in their budget, including millions of dollars in lost tax revenue from unpaid oil and gas property taxes and increased downloading from the provincial government, including increases in policing costs.

Staff brought back the proposed policy 3-1, Council Remuneration policy, and it was noted in the agenda memo that the new policy collected 13 old policies and combined them into one.

The old policies included Automatically Approved Attendance, Reimbursement- Per Diem and Salary, Reimbursement- Mileage, Reimbursement- Meals, Convention Attendance/Overnight Allowance/Partner Program, Electronic Devices, Communications Allowance, Committee Pay Differential, Committee Member/Alternate Attending Meetings, Overnight Expenses, Group Health Plan and Insurance Coverage, Meetings With Ratepayers and Promotional Clothing and Goods Program.

It was noted in the memo that the old Rental of Vehicles policy was left out of the new policy.

“This did not get put into new policy as councillors should not be renting vehicles,” stated the memo.

The new policy stated that the reeve’s monthly salary is now $2,800, the deputy reeve’s is $2,400 and councillors are $2,100, with full day per diem of $325 and half day of $162.50.

Essentially councillors gave themselves a 10 per cent cut in base pay while per diem was cut 15 per cent. Mileage pay was left at the industry rate.

Staff noted, if approved, the new policy would take effect for the March 2021 pay sheets.

Coun. Glen Keiver asked if any councillors had heard feedback from the public about this move.

Coun. Faye McGhee stated she heard from three ratepayers who told her they felt the pay cut was unnecessary but it was a good gesture.

Coun. Wade Christie heard from one ratepayer who stated they didn’t even know councillors were paid for their work.

Coun. Ken King stated he heard from one ratepayer who also stated they felt the pay cut was unnecessary, although the ratepayer agreed with the rationale once King explained it.

Coun. Debbie Penner stated she received no feedback about the pay cut.

Coun. Keiver stated he heard from one ratepayer who felt that the pay cut was an honourable gesture but that there were a lots of other areas where cuts could be made.

The topic was discussed at a February regular council meeting but was tabled after councillors were having trouble connecting through phone with Coun. Jim Hugo. Hugo was apparently absent from the March 9 meeting.

Councillors unanimously approved the new new remuneration policy including reduced base salary and per diem and they also rescinded all the old remuneration policies and also tweaked how council appointees are reimbursed.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review