Councillor Keith McGrath says he isn’t backtracking on his decision, but admits it may have been the wrong call.
The Ward 1 representative spoke to Fort McMurray Matters this morning, saying he would support a motion to retract controversial council raises that have attracted nationwide attention.
“It’s not too late,” he said. “We’ve got to look back. Our bosses aren’t happy.”
A motion to retract the raises won’t come from him though, as he says he still stands by the initial decision.
McGrath claims that initially on June 8 they had discussed the raises in camera, and all 11 members of council were on board with the figures. Mayor Melissa Blake told Fort McMurray Matters on Wednesday that she felt the numbers were arbitrary and needed outside review.
Council voted 7-4 on Tuesday to raise part-time councillor salaries from $36,000 to $75,000. McGrath, along with Councillors Allan Vinni and Sheldon Germain, would be bumped to $150,000 salaries due to their full-time roles on the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee.
McGrath stated on June 14 that he wouldn’t be accepting the raise, but voted in favour of it to help out his colleagues who may need the extra money due to the increased hours they were putting in. Councillor Claris Voyageur, who also supported the raise, has also stated she wouldn’t be accepting anything above her pre-fire salary.
Mayor Blake and Councillors Ault, Stroud, and Meagher are also rejecting the raise. They were the four who voted in favour of an amendment to separate the compensation increase from the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee bylaw.
“It was poor timing, and maybe it wasn’t the best approach,” McGrath said. “The main focus we have to stay with is… getting people back in their homes.
“We can make this right.”