Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fort McMurray councillors vote to double their pay - Update

Keith McGrath
Only a week into its existence the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee submitted multiple recommendations to council Tuesday night, all of which were a surprise to residents as they were not on the agenda before the start of the meeting.

The goal appears to be to access funds as quickly as possible from the Disaster Recovery Program which sees the provincial and federal governments cover the bulk of the costs. Councillor Keith McGrath explained their new department has an open door policy.
McGrath was proportionally the highest spending member of council in 2015, spending $18,352 for such things as gifts of municipally-branded items, sponsorships and travel costs.

Allan Vinni, Keith McGrath, and Sheldon Germain
City councillors in Fort McMurray, Alta., have approved a motion to more than double some of their salaries, and three could become some of the highest paid councillors in Canada.

The pay hike is drawing harsh criticism from constituents, many of whom lost their homes and jobs to the wildfires that devastated the region last month.
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo councillors voted 7-4 in favour of the measure to boost their compensation. Seven part-time councillors currently earning $36,000 per year will see their pay rise to $75,000.

Councillors Allan Vinni, Keith McGrath, and Sheldon Germain -- all part of a newly minted relief committee -- will now work full-time. Their pay will rise to $150,000 per year. That’s believed to be the highest base salary for any councillor in Canada. Vinni launched a profanity-laced tirade against the reporters who dared to attempt to question him.

Melissa Blake
Mayor Melissa Blake voted against the round of raises. She says the move will cause “anxiety and consternation” in a community still reeling from the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

“This council ran, and we didn’t expect a wild fire, but … we knew what our commitments were intended to be,” she said. Blake’s salary jumped to $150,000, but she is refusing to accept the extra money.