Friday, February 18, 2011

Planes, buses and automobiles

Good on Atch for releasing his travel expenses. With one exception I think his expenditures are reasonable for a busy and visible mayor. However, there are a couple of councillors that cause the eyebrow to raise.

My exception is the in-town travel claim. The in-town travel claims, at $.52 for the first 5,000 kilometers and $.46 for mileage after that, is excessive. I know councillors can claim in-town travel and expect the councillors have the same rates as the Mayor. The Atch does not take for himself without making sure his council is treated equally.

Although I am not sure about the Mayor's salary, I do know that city councillors' salaries are one-third are tax exempt. The original purpose of the exemption was to compensate for expenses associated with the position - one of them being travel within the constituency.

I was on council when this discussion and decision was made to allow councillors to claim mileage costs. The argument at the time was that councillors representing the far-reaching areas of the city had greater travel costs than those in the city centre and thus were disadvantaged. Although I personally disagreed with it, it seem liked a small enough item at the time so I went along with the decision of the majority but stated I would not personally make any claim.

Now it appears that some can buy themselves a new car every term simply through mileage claims. And of course the one-third tax exemption on expanded salaries continues to be used.

I don't have an issue with reimbursing people their expenses, but I disagree that they should have both reimbursement and tax exemptions. Pick one or the other. Better yet, do away with the mileage reimbursement and give each of them a bus pass.

As to the councillors' claims,, I accept there is value to councillors attending the FCM meetings, representing the city and voting on issues. I'm not sure that the few that have racked up the expense tab have brought any greater value to the Council Chamber than those who were respectful of the public purse.

I tip my hat to Neault for not making the in-town expenses claims.


  1. What about his membership in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge that is charged to the tax payer?

    I would hardly think that upgrading your airport waiting experience should be a charge to the tax payer. I would also hope that he fails to use his membership unless travelling on City business.

    His car allowance was ridiculously high as well.

  2. I have a greater issue with Councillors leaving the country for 2 months of the year and continuing to draw their full salary then claiming a thousand dollars in-town travel expenses.

  3. I agree - with anon 7:52am - Myles Heidt and Moe Neault are taking 8 - 12 week vacations in Phoenix - why are they collecting a full years salary.

  4. Councillors don't make full-time salaries but they are expected to work full-time hours. I don't want to quibble about the in-town travel expenses -- I believe it's small-town cheap to make those, but I don't want to get hung up on it -- but if you complain about councillors leaving town for a few weeks, then pay a full-time salary and demand they stay close to the city throughout the year.

    Personally, I don't think councillors should make a full-time pay, and I would prefer they work less than they do. The more they are involved, the more useless/counter-productive/wasteful activities they produce at taxpayer expense.

    The problem isn't paying them too much. The problem is that don't have anything else to do but mettle in our affairs. Hey, Clark/Lorje/Hill: Fix the roads, keep the sewers unplugged, pick up the garbage, and until can you do that properly, don't do anything else.

  5. I don't expect councillors to work full time hours - they don't make enough money. I also don't begrudge them regular vacation time during the year. But taking off for 8 - 12 week holidays is totally ridiculous. I can't believe the media is just ignoring that.

  6. I wish more councillors would take 8 - 12 weeks off, but I would be satisfied with the media ignoring them.

  7. Councillors earned close to $52,000.00 a year - 1/3 of which is tax free which as sole income accounts for about another $10,000.00. They also receive free parking at meters, Blackberrys, laptops, internet services, travel allowance and per diems to conferences, in town travel expenses, and I can't even guess what else.

    There are councillors that claim their position is a full time job - and for some it may be. However, those councillors that were gainfully employed prior to being elected, are still gainfully employed at those jobs. By example, when Wyant was on council, and Paulsen as well, continued to practice law. Hill still has his exeecutive director position, Heidt still runs his businesses, Penner still collects his three pensions, and last I heard Neault still worked. Only those who were unemployed prior to be elected rely on their council pay as a sole income.

    I have been told by a reliable source that council is in the process of hiring a consultant to examine their remuneration package with the goal to recommending another pay hike. Ultimately some on council believe they should earn what MLAs earn.

    Although council might like to point out what councillors earn in Calgary, Toronto, etc. the only true comparative is Regina. I do verily believe that Regina councillors earn in the mid thirity thousand range.

    Given a recent report on the average income in Saskatoon, I would say that councillors are above the average at this date.

    Each of us may have a different perspective as to whether or not we are getting value for our dollar.

  8. If they want top be compared to Toronto and Calgary maybe we should get rid of 5 of them and go to 5 council positions.


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