MD OF BIGHORN – A contract to review municipal staff salaries for the Municipal District of Bighorn was awarded to Strategic Steps Inc.
Municipal council approved on Tuesday (July 12) awarding the 2022 salary review to the Sherwood Park-based company after the Municipal Excellence Committee had recommended it on June 28 for council approval.
Reeve Lisa Rosvold asked if the findings would be presented to both council and the municipal excellence committee, which administration responded can be requested.
The council remuneration review has been delayed to next year, and Rosvold asked if the review could be part of this current staff review.
“The fact that this consultant will be questioning municipalities comparable in size and geographically comparable, we had talks about including a question of council remuneration in this.”
Shaina Tutt, the director of finance for the MD of Bighorn, stated the consultant had been asked if this would be possible.
“They agreed it is and said they would prepare a proposal summary for what a council summary would look like.”
In 2017, the municipal excellence committee and Bighorn council asked that staff salary levels in the MD be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure staff were compensated. The last salary review was in 2017 and it was approved by council in 2018.
It is expected the salary review will come under budget, which could save the MD money next year if the council salary is added in. The report noted the municipality had received five tenders for the contract.
The purpose of the salary review is to ensure existing staff are properly compensated and provide internal equity among staff. It also ensures a municipality is competitive with other municipal government, with existing staff positions compared to similar positions in other municipalities.
In January, council debated examining its pay structure, particularly given the high cost of living expenses in the region. Council has cost of living adjustments each year.
As of Jan. 1, 2021, councillors earn $25,797 per year and the reeve has a base pay of $32,769. The salaries are adjusted each Jan. 1, per the consumer price index as indicated by Statistics Canada. The last review of council salaries was done in 2012.
As part of the job, elected officials are expected to attend all meetings of council, the finance and economic development committee meetings, budget meetings, electoral meetings and BOWDA meetings.
For each approved board or committee meeting, a member of council receives a per diem of $175 limited to three times a month. They are also reimbursed for accommodation and food when attending courses, conventions or conferences and receive $0.515 per kilometre when using their vehicle on municipal business.
Elected officials are also eligible to receive parking expenses if on municipal business.
“I think we budgeted $50,000 for that review,” Rosvold said. “If this came in under budget, and having the consultant do the collection of data at the same time, then I am hoping that $50,000 price tag for next year’s review would be almost zero.”