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Councillor Germain accepting council pay increase, but takes a pay cut

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Councillor Germain accepting council pay increase, but takes a pay cut

Sheldon Germain is taking the $150,000 salary that comes along with being a full-time council member, but he’s actually saving taxpayers money.

Speaking with Fort McMurray Matters on Wednesday, the Ward 1 councillor revealed that his combined pre-fire salary was higher than the new stipend that comes along with being a member of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee. Germain serves as a vice-principal at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, a job that is provincially funded.

“It’s not a raise for me,” He said. “It was never intended to be a raise, it’s an absolute shift of workload.”

Germain won’t be drawing his FMCSD salary while he sits as a full-time member of the committee, likewise shifting the weight of his salary payment to the municipal level.

“The workload is immense,” he said of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee. “And you need to free up time to make decisions.”

The committee showed off its work Tuesday night, putting forward seven recommendations geared towards supporting local business and expediting the cleanup of damaged areas.

Germain was one of seven councillors to vote in favour of the municipal pay increases, which would boost part-time councillors to $75,000 from $36,000 and full-time councillors and the mayor to $150,000. So far, Mayor Melissa Blake has rejected the increase along with Councillors Ault, Stroud, Meagher, McGrath, Voyageur, and Cardinal. Councillor Bussieres said he has yet to make a decision, and Councillor Vinni has yet to comment on the matter.

On Fort McMurray Matters last week, Mayor Blake said that part of why she voted against the raise was because the numbers seemed to be picked “out of the air.”

Germain took exception with that, saying the full-time compensation was designed to put them on-par with committee members at the provincial level. MLAs are paid a base salary of $127,000 with an additional $16,000 for serving as a deputy chair on a committee. Committee chairs receive an additional $32,000 plus $200 for each meeting.

Councillor Colleen Tatum is the only other member of council to confirm they will be taking the increased compensation. Tatum initially supported separating the compensation item from the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee creation bylaw, but when that amendment was struck down she voted in favour of the bylaw.

In a Facebook post that was later deleted, Tatum said that the “real costs of life have to be accounted for.” She noted lost opportunities with her business and family as reasons the raise was needed.

Councillor McGrath noted that he would support a motion retracting the increased compensation from the bylaw. Our newsroom has learned that a motion was drafted and ready to go on Tuesday night, but never made it to the floor due to the length of the meeting and other factors.

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