Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol agrees with big pay increases for the next mayor and council.
An arm’s length committee of local citizens reviewed council compensation earlier this year and came to the conclusion pay in the fast-growing community was “far too low.”
In a comparison of 14 Alberta communities, Blackfalds came in second last in terms of pay and compensation.
The committee recommended the mayor’s salary be boosted by 27 per cent to $36,518 from $28,827. Councillors pay would increase by 26 per cent to $24,604 from $16,025. It was approved by council last week.
Blackfalds, like many communities, routinely reviews compensation in an election year and any changes don’t kick in until a new council is elected in October.
“The committee did a lot of research to try to come up with a fair rate of pay for the next council,” said Stol.
Council’s responsibilities have increased along with the town’s population, she said. Earlier this year, Statistics Canada named Blackfalds the fastest-growing community in the country with a population over 5,000 people and outside census metropolitan areas.
“We also have a really dynamic region. There are a lot of regional partnerships, regional committees and a lot of regional workload also included in what we do.”
On top of that, the province’s overhaul of the Municipal Government Act has resulted in additional responsibilities for municipal politicians.
Pay is not what attracts people to council, she said. They all love the job and the type of work that comes with being an elected official.
“But it still has to be compensated fairly in order to get people to continue to want to do it,” she said.
Taking a look at compensation in the spring of an election year makes sense, she said.
“This spring, when people are deciding whether or not they are running for council, they know exactly what they are getting into and what the remuneration is.”
The committee also looked at whether Blackfalds was ready for a full-time mayor. A population of 17,000 was seen as a benchmark to take a close look at that.
Stol, said while mayor is more than a part-time job, she agrees with the committee’s findings.