New formula changes city council salary – and could relieve politicians

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Say goodbye to those politically sensitive debates as London councilors struggle to raise their own salaries.

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According to a new proposal from an independent task force, elected officials would automatically get an annual raise based on recent increases for a typical Londoner working full time. If approved by the council, it will make life easier for politicians who are put in the difficult position of deciding and then justifying their own raises, a political scientist has said.

“They can say, ‘We have this formula,’ a bureaucrat applies the formula, so you delegate responsibility,” said retired political science professor Peter Woolstencroft. “Looks like we didn’t put our hand in the trough, someone else put their hand in the trough and gave it to us.”

The council’s pay review task force suggests keeping councilors’ pay linked to full-time median income in London – albeit updated to 2020 rates – plus automatic increases based on average annual increase of this rate at the last census.

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Serving on the council is a public service, not a traditional job, but pay still matters, the group said in its report. The task force’s recommendations are submitted to city politicians for debate and approval on Tuesday evening. Any changes would come into effect at the next term of the Board.

Last term, the council took advice from an earlier compensation task force and tied councilors’ compensation to median full-time income in London, in what has been dubbed a made-in-London solution.

Under this policy, city councilors and the mayor are entitled to inflationary increases each year, based on the increase in the consumer price index or the labor index, whichever is lower. For 2022, this is an increase of 3.5%. (The board has yet to approve the increase at its next meeting, although it was unanimously approved by the corporate services committee).

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That would raise salaries to $54,191 for a councilman and $146,142 for Mayor Ed Holder, both retroactive to January 1.

But even this rule has given rise to a testy political debate. The Board opted to freeze his salary in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and last year voted against a proposal to maintain that freeze.

“It looks like they’re coming up with a reasonable approach to making those increases more automatic and also smoothing out swings in inflation one way or the other, which I think is a very reasonable approach to ensuring consistency and stability. , as well as predictability. for those who serve as councilors as well as the taxpayers who pay those salaries,” Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan said.

Woolstencroft said the other benefit of using London’s recent increase in median full-time income to set an average annual increase for councilors is that it reflects the local economy, instead of a provincial rate. or national.

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Scoring political points by foregoing increases doesn’t help politicians or taxpayers, he said.

“There’s always something that really challenges the board, whether it’s COVID-19 or other difficult times. There are always jolts in the economy,” Woolstencroft said. “If you keep not raising it because you have this crunch or this crisis, then you must have a big raise, and no one is thanking you for the last four years without a raise.”

The task force made several other recommendations after soliciting public and councilor input, including a call for a diverse panel of experts to conduct the next review of politicians’ compensation, during the council’s 2022-2026 term. . He also opposed the use of a ‘performance-based pay’ system for the board, although a few Londoners urged the task force to consider this.

“Performance will inevitably be measured every four years by the voting public,” the task force wrote in its final report.

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