City council backs 3% pay hike

Red Deer city council, senior management and other non-unionized staff will take home a three per cent raise, slightly higher than the cost of living.

Red Deer city council, senior management and other non-unionized staff will take home a three per cent raise, slightly higher than the cost of living.

On Monday, city council supported the three per cent increase, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011.

The increase affects about 130 non-unionized (exempt) staff including the city manager, directors, managers, and specialists. The eight councillors plus the mayor will receive the same increase since their salaries are automatically tied in with the non-unionized salaries.

Council’s salary now stands at $51,615 compared with $50,112 while the mayor’s annual salary will run at $86,683 instead of $84,158. The city manager’s salary will rise to $209,919 from $200,892.

Exempt staff received a two per cent increase in July 2010 and then 2.9 per cent in 2011, slightly below the three per cent increases for unionized staff in 2011.

City manager Craig Curtis said it’s important to remain competitive in the marketplace.

A number of other communities also gave three per cent increases, including Grande Prairie and Calgary. The City of Lethbridge gave a two per cent increase for 2012.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said a recent report of the Conference Board of Canada shows that Canadian non-unionized workers can expect on average pay hike of three per cent. The board surveyed 236 organizations.

Based on that information, Wyntjes said she supported the increase.

Seven members of council were in favour. Mayor Morris Flewwelling was absent at the time.

Coun. Chris Stephan, sole opponent of the increase, said the city has to be mindful of the taxpayer.

For the past four years, all the unionized and non-unionized staff have seen increases over inflation, he said.

“That’s problematic because the private sector is having to bear that cost,” said Stephan. “And they’re only seeing increases around inflation.”

Coun. Lynne Mulder said she understands the rationale for thinking of taxpayers, but said they’d be upset if they didn’t have quality people at City Hall.

The three per cent is only one per cent above the Consumer Price Index, she added.

The cost of training new staff far outstrips the three per cent or five per cent given, added Coun. Paul Harris.

In other council news:

l Council approved Land and Economic Development’s request to proceed with the marketing and sale of lots in the Garden Heights subdivision with a May 15 lot draw date.

l Coun. Paul Harris receives the nod to seek a second term on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board. Council endorsed all costs related to Harris’ campaign for election up to $1,000. Council also endorsed all costs associated with Harris attending FCM meetings.

l Council amends policy to give extra pay to councillors who sit on external committees outside City Hall. Coun. Chris Stephan was opposed. Council also approved an operating base budget adjustment of $9,800 be made to provide for these per diems, with the 2012 amount coming from the tax stabilization reserve. Coun. Stephan was opposed.

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