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Trillium Ford

Councillors split on timing of compensation review

Posted June 15, 2017

It ended as it opened, in confusion, but in the end, New Tecumseth councillors, at least the majority, voted in committee Monday night to award a $35,000 contract to Gallagher McDowall Associates to conduct a compensation review for the Town's 121 full-time, 43 part-time/seasonal and Volunteer/Paid On Call Firefighters, including vacation entitlements, tuition allowances/reimbursements and paid leaves.

Immediately after mayor Rick Milne read the recommendation, he called for a mover and seconder. Ward 1 councillor Marc Biss moved the motion, but there was no one who would second it.

"Doesn't count, I didn't get a seconder," said Mayor Milne, who then proceeded to move on to the next item on the agenda. But inaudible (from the press table) murmers from a councillor prompted the mayor to reply, "I didn't get a seconder, so I..... Councillor Biss was the only one that.... you want to second it? Okay, Councillor Harrison McIntyre seconds it. All in favour, or maybe we better ask questions, yeah, open for discussion."

With that, Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside prefaced his opposition to the motion by noting "I certainly believe in fair remuneration and fair benefits for all our staff, it's very important, and we must be in compliance with pay equity."

"However, I don't think this is the time to proceed with this compensation package. We're in the process of hiring a new CAO, and hopefully within the next few months we'll have someone in place, and that new person, he or she might have other ideas as to how the structure maybe should be set up, or have any other ideas as to how the structure of the Town should work, and I would want to have that person in place in that time for them to get their feet wet and come back to us with some recommendations."

Mr. Whiteside also suggested the estimated $50,000 Corporate Values and Core Competency review included in the 2017 Human Resources budget, has priority.

"I feel strongly that it should be done before the compensation review," he said. "The proposal is also over budget, and the report did not indicate what comparators it would use, and I personally believe there are other human resources items that I would like to see dealt with prior to the compensation study being done."

Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb, and Ward 6 councillor Richard Norcross also opposed the review's timing until after the new CAO is hired, and after the comptency review. Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross was absent from the meeting, but he did tell Free Press Online that he is not in favour of the compensation review for similar reasons.

Ward 1 councillor Marc Biss not only supported the review, but suggested similar reviews should occur in every term of council.

"The last time New Tecumseth did a market review was in 2010, over seven years ago, certainly the market has changed considerably since then," said Mr. Biss. "I feel by going forward with this, and providing the data for the new CAO, and the new leadership team, is very important for them in order to make sure when they come out to hire others that we can advertise appropriately, attract talent, keep our talent, promote our talent. The last thing we need to do is train people bring them in and then have them leave. If we're seven years behind the times I think it's time now for us to make sure we're providing competitive pay for the industry and providing our leaders with the tools they need to attract talent, and maintain talent."

Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury said she agreed with moving forward with the study, and went further, suggesting, "I think too because of all the changes they're making to the Elections Act, I think its been probably eons since the compensation for council has been reviewed so when they do do this study, that that can also be a party to it at that time. This is over budget anyway and it doesn't say where we're going to get the money from for the overage, but I think the council review should be done at the same time with the municipalities that are chosen to do the study."

"Just to be clear councillor Sainsbury, the unfavourable balance is $5,000," said councillor Biss. "If we put this off, all we do is the market continues to shift, talent continues to be drawn away, but if we do this today, we'll at least give the tools to the leadership team so they'll have the right information at the right time, so when the new CAO has been selected, that individual, whoever he or she may be, will have all the tools at their disposal. She will have the compensation review, he or she will have the KPMG report. We will have set them up for success. I believe compensation reviews are very important. And for waiting seven, eight maybe nine years for the next one, I feel it's irresponsible, I think we should do this every term of council because the market changes, and the fact that we're growing so much in this township, we require the best talent, and in order to attract the best talent, we have to look professional, we have to provide a very competitive pay structure, and keep the talent that we have here."

When mayor Milne called the vote, there was confusion over which motion they were voting on, and after the vote, councillor Norcross questioned whether the majority prevailed because the hand count wasn't an obvious show of hands.

It's expected a recorded vote will be requested when the motion comes to council for ratification on June 26.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri
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