It’s like Notorious B.I.G. said: more money, more problems.
But that expression doesn’t seem to mean much to Toronto City Council, which on Tuesday, just months before a municipal election voted on whether to give themselves a nearly nine per cent pay raise.
Talk of the hike emerged from a recommendation made by a panel commissioned by City Hall, but at Tuesday’s committee meeting, the initial consensus was only that there wasn’t one.
“We have so much business to accomplish at our council meetings, and this should not take one minute of time on the agenda,” said councillor and mayoral hopeful Jane Pitfield.
And Pitfield wasn’t alone in her reluctance to approve the raise.
“I don’t believe this council deserves a raise of this magnitude,” said councillor David Shiner.
“We have to be able to be proud of what we do … and go out and make sure that our communities feel safe … the last three years have not made people feel that way.”
But of course there are those on the other side of the fence, pushing for the financial boost as council prepares for a potential shake-up. Their support is based on the logic that elevated salaries will be essential in attracting stronger, more capable candidates to run for public office.
“I want to thank the members of the blue ribbon panel for their thoughtful examination of this issue,” said councillor Howard Moscoe (pictured).
“We’ve adopted a compensation package that would guarantee we’re not the highest paid in the country ever.”
A short time after debate early Tuesday afternoon, the initial motion was rejected in favour of a new, slightly reduced raise, which was accepted moments later.
The specifics of the raise won’t be official until it’s passed a final time in council later in the week, but reports suggest that the hike, which will kick in January 1, 2007, will raise councilor salaries to roughly $95,000 a year, a boost of just under nine per cent.
There’s still a lot to be uncovered surrounding this issue, but Mayor David Miller, who stands to make $160,000 under the new plan, says it’s all about results.
“What I’d say to people is, ‘What do you think of your city councillor?” said Miller.
“Do you think they’ve worked hard … is this somebody you’re going to support in the election?”