Question: does the mayor deserve a $16,000 raise? Answer: it’s an election year

Question: does the mayor deserve a $16,000 raise? Answer: it’s an election year

Raise high the pay scheme, councillors (Image: Alfred Ng, from the Toronto Life Flickr pool)

Received wisdom dictates that it’s never a good time for a politician to get a raise. For this reason, the city has tried to take the politics out of setting councillors’ and the mayor’s salaries by asking independent consultants to look at the issue. Well, those consultants have spoken, and the received wisdom has been returned to sender: the proposal includes a nine per cent raise for the mayor’s salary from $167,769.94 to $183,604, according to the Post.

If the idea of council being able to “take the politics out” of anything in an election year prompts peals of hysterical laughter, that’s as should be expected. The Post goes on to report that all of the mayoral front-runners have said they’ll turn down the cash:

Toronto mayoral candidates lined up on Monday night to insist that they had no interest in a proposal to hike their wage… The recommendation will be considered by the city’s executive committee next week. It stems from a report by the Hay Group that found Toronto’s leader to be well below the city benchmark of setting salaries of elected officials at the 75th percentile, which means that 25% of politicians in large municipalities make more.

The rundown of the candidates’ reactions goes like this: George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi say they’d freeze their pay for the full four-year term, though Rossi adds a 10 per cent cut on top of that. (Smitherman, however, calls some of council “jackasses,” which endears him a little to us.) Rob Ford said he’d either freeze the mayor’s salary or donate the increase to charity. Sarah Thomson said she’d freeze the wage for 18 months, and Joe Pantalone said he’d really rather talk about other things, but he joins the pack in calling for a freeze.

So, as far as taking politics out of the mayor’s salary, the city seems to have done about as well as it’s done at keeping bedbugs and hogweed out of the city. At this rate, council should really promise to keep the crowds away from the Pan Am Games—it’s the only way to guarantee they show up.

Mayoral candidates take pass on raise [National Post]
• Toronto mayor due for a $16,000 pay hike, report says [Globe and Mail]