Toronto's executive committee is set to discuss raising the salaries for the next mayor and council – including a proposal to raise councillors' pay by almost 13 per cent.
The committee will look at two options presented by city staff next Wednesday: to either maintain salaries at the current levels 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.
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. And with an election timed for the end of October, it's likely they'll waive it again and forego a hike.
The study looked at councillors' compensation for other GTA municipalities – including Mississauga ($133,078) and Markham ($122,908), as well as other major cities like Vancouver ($109,944), Montreal ($121,200) and Calgary ($111,066) – and found that, in order to be bumped to the 75th percentile, Toronto's councillors would have to be paid $119,000. In some cases, those figures quoted in the study include other compensation paid to councillors on top of base salary, such as salary for sitting on regional governments, and allowances.
The same study found that Mayor Rob Ford was paid in the 61st percentile compared with other chief magistrates, including Calgary's Naheed Nenshi ($208,000), Mississauga's Mayor Hazel McCallion ($191,272), Vancouver's Gregor Robertson ($154,347), and Ottawa's Jim Watson ($168,102).
OCG found that the Toronto mayor's salary should be bumped up to $200,00 in order to fall within the 75th percentile.
In total, increasing both councillor and the mayors' salaries to the 75th percentile would cost the city $771,461 in the first year, according to the staff report.
What to pay councillors has been a contentious issue at City Hall in the past, with Mayor Ford – who regularly rails against council spending – refusing to accept pay hikes in the past.
Councillor compensation review of 11 comparable regions:
City of Mississauga: $133,078
City of Markham: $122,908
City of Montreal: $121,200
City of Edmonton: $116,851
City of Calgary: $111,066
City of Oshawa: $110,533
City of Vancouver: $109,944
City of Toronto: $105,397
City of Hamilton: $94,605
City of Ottawa: $93,986
Town of Oakville: $93,234
Mayor compensation review of 15 comparable cities/regions:
City of Calgary: $208,459
Region of Durham (chair): $206,634
City of Edmonton: $205,842
Region of York (chair): $202,926
City of Mississauga: $191,272
City of Markham: $178,030
City of Toronto: 177,499
Region of Peel (chair): $170,370
City of Oshawa: $169,749
Region of Halton (chair): $168,267
City of Ottawa: $168,102
City of Hamilton: $165,773
Halifax Regional Municipality: $162,907
City of Montreal: $160,977
City of Vancouver: $154,347