This has to be one of the d**ned if you do, equally da*ned if you don’t situations. A third-party citizen’s committee came up with a figure for Milton Council of a 15% raise; fair enough. I think a raise is often necessary to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living. And also; I think everyone deserves the idea of a raise, it gives you something to work towards.
Where I have a problem is the pretension afterwards that it was this committee who had the final say, and not council. Despite what a committee said, Council still had the final say, and voted itself a pay raise; there is no getting around it. Admit it, face up the flack and then move on. Whether it was deserved or not, there’s no way to avoid the lousy optics of the fact that you just gave yourself a raise in an era where governments are cutting back and raising taxes.
There was a second choice; an option brought forward by Councilors Rick Malboeuf and Mike Cluett. It was a motion to give a raise yes, but phase it in following the next election. Not only could this potentially lure more new blood into the mix, but it also provides incentive for Councilors to work hard to get our votes. Everyone wins here; Miltonians get more of a choice in their candidates, and Council avoids the nasty optics of giving themselves a raise. This was the option I would have favoured. Cluett has always said he wouldn’t raise a politician’s pay mid-term.
I find it phony the way councilors coming out, and publicly saying they’re giving their raises to charity. It’s a noble gesture to be sure; everyone should give if they can afford it. But in this setting it just looks like the hand was caught in the cookie jar. If this is how you truly feel, take the raise face the flack; and then quietly give the money to charity. It’s often the quieter gestures that impress, and are more meaningful.
If you’re serious about taking politicians out of the situation where they give themselves a raise, then do it. Until then take the money, and all the flack that goes with it.