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RM’s cost of administration

Municipal amalgamation hits the bottom line
RM office
RM of Wallace-Woodworth office building is located along Hwy#83, near Virden. Photographed, March 2015.

General Government accounts for 16.47% of the RM of Wallace- Woodworth operating budget. This includes the cost of running the main RM of Wallace-Woodworth office, located near Virden. The RM employs five office staff including Chief Administrative Officer and the Assistant CAO, the Chief Financial Officer, plus two other office staff as well as a GIS technician. In addition, both the LUD offices of Kenton and Elkhorn have office managers as well.

Beyond staffing, there are regular expenses and upkeep of hardware, software plus supplies for the offices. This year, legal and audit costs along with municipal amalgamation costs increase administration’s bottom line.

While council work isn’t a full-time occupation, it does require councillors to set aside time in their week for council related work and for that they receive a yearly indemnity.

Twice per month they attend public council meetings. Committee meetings are monthly, and a councillor may sit on several committees. Then there is homework - documents to peruse and consider, plus a more nebulous cost to councillors includes communication with ratepayers and representing council at public events.

Attending conferences and seminars is also covered by a per diem rate, mileage, meals, possible accommodations and registration.

Councillors’ pay

Councillor indemnities and expenses were listed in the 2016 Financial Plan document as presented by CAO Garth Mitchell on April 21.

He explained that these dollars vary due to the committees they get appointed to and the number of meetings that each attends.

The reeve’s pay was $28,800, and for individual councillors, it was between $14,800 and $21,550.

Each of the four LUD representatives receives $200 per month for one meeting per month. Also worth mentioning - there is a $200 penalty for missing any of the three council meetings per month (two regular and one committee).

Indemnities, expenses, plus the cost of conventions for seven council members totalled $167,749 in 2015. Council has not voted to change the indemnity or per diem rate.

So, while General Government Services at $1,760,921 was 16.47% of operations, councillor costs alone for the amalgamated RM of Wallace-Woodworth at $167,749 are less than 1.6%.

To compare

Compare this to a document posted online in 2010 by Colin Craig, for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The data was to include indemnities and per diems for municipal councillors, mayors and reeves and not to include conventions.

Five years ago, prior to amalgamation, in a simpler day and simpler time, with fewer ratepayers, the Reeve of Wallace, Vince Heaman received $14,173 in 2010. Reeve of Woodworth was Denis Carter and he received an indemnity of $6,640. At that time Mayor of Elkhorn Roland Gagnon received $7,741.

Now, at $28,800 the Reeve over all that territory is paid pretty much the same amount as the total of the heads of the three councils before amalgamation.

However, the reeve and a couple of councillors live about 38 kms from the main office near Virden, while the Elkhorn councillor now has to travel over 28 kms to meetings held at the office.

“There are definitely increased travel costs for meetings, just due to the size of our municipality,” says Mitchell.

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