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Council compensation, anti-KED petition slated for Tuesday’s city council meeting

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc’s motion regarding mayor and council remuneration has been drafted and will be presented on Tuesday, and will seek an independent investigation
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Tom Davies Square. (File)

The city’s elected officials are expected to vote next week on a motion to review their remuneration levels.

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc said his motion seeking the review, which he first suggested during this week’s finance and administration meeting, will be ready in time for Tuesday’s city council meeting following some fine-tuning by city staff.

The motion, he told Sudbury.com, will seek to request that city administration lay the groundwork for an independent investigation of mayor and council compensation levels to take place during the first quarter of 2022.

“I do want to set the tone for the new elected officials,” Leduc said, adding that any changes to come out of this review would take effect at the start of 2023, shortly after the Oct. 24, 2022, municipal election. 

Although city administration would play a role in launching the effort, Leduc said his intention is for the review to be conducted independently by an accredited human resources firm and for it to cover all manner of city council finances, including remuneration, benefits and expenses. 

Public discussion regarding mayor and council remuneration levels was sparked several days ago by the City of Timmins conducting a review of their own in which they compared mayoral compensation levels among the mayors of Northern Ontario.

Out of this, Sudbury.com followed up on Greater Sudbury’s remuneration levels, reporting that Mayor Brian Bigger’s salary and benefits increased by 60 per cent in four years. 

Bigger raised the issue during last week’s finance and administration committee meeting, during which he sought to explain matters to the public by highlighting that a significant chunk of the increase was the result of a change in Canada Revenue Agency guidelines in 2019. 

At that time, the one-third of their pay that was previously tax-exempt became taxable earnings, so city councillors’ pay was increased by approximately $6,000 each and the mayor’s pay was increased by $45,000 to make up the difference.

Throughout the discussion, Leduc said the public has been asking for greater clarity on mayor and council remuneration levels. Although a city bylaw outlines how remuneration levels are determined, it’s been several years since the baseline and process have been reviewed. 

“The residents of Sudbury want answers now,” Leduc said, adding that he looks forward to seeing how his colleagues on council respond to the motion. 

“I think there’s going to be a lot of mixed emotions from councillors, as we saw the other night,” he said, adding that some will likely support it and others won’t. 

Predicting claims he’s grandstanding and that the motion has been politically motivated, Leduc said it has nothing to do with him and is intended to level the playing field for the 2022 election.

“It may eliminate some of the candidates, but as council, this is a part-time job and remuneration should have no effect on whether a person runs for politics,” he said. “If remuneration is a factor in your running for municipal politics then you shouldn’t get into it.”

The following topics are also expected to be raised during Tuesday’s city council meeting, for which the agenda can be found by clicking here

Anti-Kingsway Entertainment District petition

A group of four residents is expected to present an anti-Kingsway Entertainment District petition during Tuesday’s meeting. 

Patrick Crowe, Keith Clarkson, Hazel Ecclestone and Arthur Peach are behind the change.org effort, called “We want Sudbury's new Arena located downtown to fuel our city’s urban renaissance.”

As of Friday, it had received 2,812 signatures, a jump from the 2,500 Sudbury.com reported in August. Physical copies of the petition have also been made available at Sudbury businesses since July, and proponents now report a total signature count of more than 3,000.

The effort joins legal action undertaken by the Minnow Lake Restoration Group to kill the Kingsway Entertainment District, which is a proposed municipal arena expected to accompany a casino and hotel on a property at The Kingsway

Although city council remains divided on the KED, a majority has consistently voted in favour of the project, for which site preparation work is expected to begin by the end of the month. 

Social media policy for council and local boards

A request is scheduled to be made for a report from city administration on a social media policy for members of city council and local boards.

Ward 1 Coun. Mark Sigonretti first suggested the policy in September in response to Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan’s online activities, for which his colleagues on council have reprimanded him. 

Outside of the city’s Code of Conduct, which makes brief reference to social media, the city does not have a dedicated policy related to social media. 

Update on integrity commissioner activities

An update on city integrity commissioner Robert Swayze will be presented, at which he’s expected to highlight his most recent activities. 

His services commenced July 10, 2018, for a five-year term ending July 22, 2023.

In 2019, he responded to 22 complaints and his services totaled $76,065. 

The following year, he responded to 12 complaints and charged the city $20,283, and in 2021 to date he has responded to 16 complaints at a total cost of $85,943. 

Mandated with helping ensure the city’s elected officials follow their code of conduct, he has occasionally come under fire himself. In September, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan called for Swayze's resignation in response to his handling of an investigation into his online activities. 

Tuesday’s city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. and a livestream can be accessed by clicking here.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.