Politicians can vote themselves a pay increase, but Hawkesbury council will not do so at this time.

In 2017, the federal government eliminated the tax break that made one-third of a municipal politician’s salary income tax-exempt.

In response, some municipal councils, including Champlain Township and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, gave themselves an increase to compensate for 100 per cent of their salaries becoming taxable.

In Hawkesbury though, council voted on January 21 to keep their basic remuneration the same.

The mayor is paid $36,329.02 per year for attending council meetings.

Councillors are paid $18,881.35 per year for attending council meetings.

No changes are being made to other forms of compensation council members receive for their work such as allowances or per diems for meals.

“It was not even discussed,” said Mayor Paula Assaly about the possibility of a remuneration increase.

Council members will, however, continue to receive a yearly wage increase that matches what the town gives to its non-unionized employees.

The last time council remuneration in Hawkesbury increased separately from the yearly non-unionized increase was in 2015.  The mayor’s salary was set at $34,161.62 and the amount for councillors was $17,754.72.

Assaly said one of the reasons an increase was not considered is because no transition plan is in place when a new council takes over after an election.

She said outgoing councils should be responsible for approving any increases before the new term begins.

Town staff and council are in the process of developing a transition plan that will be ready for the next election in 2022.

Assaly said councillors have been submitting lists to staff of things they would like to see included in it.  That could include recommended reading and other information for incoming council members.

As an example, Assaly said new mayors on the United Counties of Prescott and Russell Council received a USB key with transition information at the beginning of the council term in December.