Today’s Northumberland Asks Cobourg Council – Would You Have Announced During Election Proposing A Salary Increase?

In City Hall, Editor Choice

Today’s Northumberland sent out a e-mail on Friday, February 10, 2023 to each member of Cobourg Council asking the question, given it’s been approximately three months since the municipal election would they have announced during the election campaign they would be proposing a salary increase?

We just received (February 14, 2023) their answers which are below in their entirety.


Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland
Thank you for the question and the opportunity to respond. I would like to be very clear- Throughout my campaign, I spoke of my intention to push for a city council that is dynamic, inclusive, and representative of the incredible town that we serve. These changes cannot happen with councillor salaries that won’t even allow for councillors and mayors to live and work in our town.
That being said, I invite you , and anyone else who is interested to look at what this raise actually entails. For the 7 members of council, a total of $21,315 (inclusive of CPP) was added to the budget 2023. This is not about lining pockets; this is about trying to create a sustainable salary that will allow any member of our city to run for council; not just those for whom salary is inconsequential. It is only a start in the right direction, it is a fiscally responsible step, it is very early in the term, and we need to set a precedent early and to have this difficult conversation in our first year as history continues to show that councils who wait until later in the term are unable to pass these raises.
Those of you who followed my election campaign should not be surprised that I believe very strongly that it is time for the Cobourg Council to move away from an ‘old boys’ club. Representation means that I am not the only person under 60 who isn’t retired, isn’t a Rotarian and isn’t independently wealthy to hold the title of Mayor in the future. Mayors and councillors should be elected if he/she/they are the right person for the job according to our constituents. They should be able to make at lease a minimum wage for the work and time that is needed to make informed and difficult decisions. It is critical that both the positions of councillor and of Mayor are attainable to all; this is the right thing to do ahead of the 2026 election and this is the most fiscally prudent and strategic way of ensuring this change happens before the end of this term.
I stand by my decision to put this motion on the floor, It is the job of the Mayor to put forth the controversial issues. I thank the councillors who were courageous enough to support it with the full knowledge of the potential public backlash. An investment now in diversity and inclusivity (about $20,000 spread over 7 people over the entire year) is a just start to get to where we need to be for the future.

Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty
No, I wouldn’t have

Adam Bureau
We go over budget remuneration in year three, according to the bylaw, so it was not on my radar to have included it in my campaign at all. However, I did vote in favour of Mayor Cleveland’s motion to increase Council renumeration.

I chose to act on this because being on Council is a full-time job. Last year alone, I put in 3,000 plus hours at $25,000. This includes time spent in chambers, including prep-time, boards, committees, public appearances, special meetings, responding to in-person and virtual questions and more. I am hopeful that this increase being spread out over three years, will help sustain current council and further, increase accessibility to those interested in running in the future.

If anyone has any questions on this or anything else, they can be in touch with me directly at

Randy Barber
In sincere truth, I never even thought of this iniative until it came to Council via a constituent delegation during budget deliberations.
It is an anomaly that 444 Ontario municipalities must have their Councils decide on their own income level and my experience has been that even a COLA increase, attracts criticism from a few in the electorate and of course, the media. It is not the amount at issue usually; it is the simple fact that Mayors and Councillors are seen to be deciding on their own salaries and benefits that irks most. in other words, it is the process that tips the scale to negativity.
Three days ago, on my own initiative, I sent a message to the Province asking it to prepare a report on remuneration by all 444 municipalities as to population size, budgets, size of Councils, support for same etc.
This would give some guidance to Councils who have this dastardly task and an effort to level the playing field. For example, I believe Port Hope’s remuneration is greater than Cobourg’s, good, bad or indifferent and comparisons may be made all over the Province with towns of disparate size, all having to determine their own salaries and benefits. A corporation the size of Cobourg of some 30 million dollars in yearly budget requires a commensurate remuneration for those tasked with these decisions in the future.

Brian Darling
If I was planning on requesting Council to entertain a 55% increase for Councillors, once re-elected, I would have made it well known during my campaign. Full transparency. My position is as per our policy. Council would consider an increase in salaries during the third year of the term, and if any increase was proposed it would take effect at the start of the next term for the new incoming Council.

Aaron Burchat
As I voted against the salary increase, no I would not have mentioned anything about proposing or supporting an increase during the election. Previous councils had set up a process on how to deal with council salary increases to be dealt with in year 3 of the 4 year term, with whatever increase was decided would take effect when the next council is sworn in. I feel that is a good way to deal with potential increases, as opposed to the sitting council voting ourselves an increase

Miriam Mutton
Fundamentally, if a question was asked about increasing Council remuneration during the election campaign I would have answered it honestly and directly with a ‘yes and this is why’, giving opportunity for dialogue with the person asking the question. Council itself has to keep up with the times, put simply, and the demands and expectations of the job require fair compensation so that, among other things, a member of Council can be representative of the community they serve and the member is not unfairly influenced in their role to make informed decisions on behalf of the citizens of the community. In addition, as I explained before the vote in Council this week, Cobourg is no longer a small town in a rural area but situated at a target edge of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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