The mayor and councillors in The Nation approved a pay increase for themselves on March 4 in reaction to changes in federal tax laws.
The changes were made after federal tax laws eliminated the tax exemption on one-third of municipal council salaries.
This is the first significant increase in council remuneration in 10 years, according to records on the municipal website that go back to 2009.
In fact, Mayor François St-Amour’s base salary has only increased by the cost of living since 2011, which was the first year he was in office.
That year, the base salary was $40,000. In 2017, his salary was $42,032.16, according to the most recent figures on the municipality’s website.
Retroactive to January 1, 2019, the mayor’s salary is now $50,000 per year, a $7,967.84 increase.
Similarly, councillor’s salaries have only increased nominally since 2011. A councillor’s base salary was $21,330.29. In 2017, it was $23,785.88. Retroactive to January 1, 2019, the base salary is $27,700.16 per year.
The salary increases account for the one-third that was previously tax-exempt, with an additional increase for the mayor.
The municipality also covers mileage and up to $5,000 per year in convention costs for council members.
Council members will also be receiving $30 bi-weekly for the use of personal telephones, both cellular or landline.
The by-law authorizing the salary increases was approved without any debate. However, after the meeting ended, St-Amour explained that the increases were mostly due to the removal of the tax exemption.
Councillor Francis Brière interjected and defended the salary increase for the mayor. He said that The Nation operates without a Chief Administrative Officer and is instead overseen by an executive committee, which includes the mayor, and has led to a significantly greater workload.
St-Amour is also the President of the Police Services Board, a member of the Minor Variance Committee, and an ex-officio member of all committees.
Council members in The Nation do not receive any additional per diems or stipends for attending committee meetings.
Brière said St-Amour has always been modest and was reluctant to increase his own salary in the past.
He said the salary issue has been discussed by council in the past, and that the increase for the mayor was suggested by him and Councillor Marie-Noëlle Lanthier.
Councillors Alain Mainville and Danik Forgues agreed with the salary increase.