Toronto’s executive committee rejected a staff proposal Wednesday to give councillors a 13-per-cent salary hike – voting instead to maintain their salaries at their current levels with an adjustment for inflation.
The committee, which looked at two options presented by city staff – to either maintain salaries adjusted for inflation, or to raise the mayor’s salary from about $177,000 to $200,000 and councillor salaries from about $105,000 to $119,000 – opted for the former option.
“If you want more money, you’re going to have to go to another level of government,” said Mayor Rob Ford in the meeting. The mayor, who is running for re-election, has made spending at City Hall a key campaign platform. “If you’re in it for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.”
The recommendations were advanced after the city hired consulting company OCG Group to compare salaries of Toronto’s council with 15 other municipalities, as is required at the end of every council term. The report found that Toronto councillors are currently being paid in the 37th percentile of comparable cities and regions – and less than their counterparts in places like Oshawa or Markham.
Toronto’s municipal code stipulates that the mayor and councillors be paid within at least the 75th percentile of comparable cities, although councils have voted to waive that bylaw in the past.
The executive committee also discussed Wednesday the results of a report on council expenses that showed that some councillors had spent tens of thousands of dollars on travel in the past year.
“Councillor expenses are ridiculous,” the mayor said Tuesday evening ahead of that discussion. “That’s over the top. These people are expending more than their income”
But several councillors defended their travel spending at Wednesday’s meeting, saying the money was spent to drum up business and other opportunities.