The Mayor and Council for the Rural Municipality of Ritchot could be getting quite a pay raise. That is what has been recommended by the municipality's Indemnity Committee.

Mayor Chris Ewen says at the start of his second term, Council agreed that an independent committee should be deciding how much money the mayor and councillors make. So, a committee was constructed made up of residents, business or commercial land owners and a past councillor. On Tuesday, committee representative Ron Rochon presented their recommendation to Council.

The recommendation is that starting in 2023, the monthly remuneration for Mayor jump from $3,365 to $3,981.50, or from $40,380 annually to $47,778. Starting in 2023, this monthly remuneration would include common meetings, such as regular council, public works, planning, finance and personnel meetings. The hourly remuneration for mayor will increase from $26.75 to $35. 

As for councillors, the monthly remuneration will jump from $1,895 to $2,286, or from $22,740 annually to $27,432. Starting in 2023, this monthly remuneration would also include common meetings. The hourly remuneration for councillor will increase from $23.37 to $30.

"In this day and age, that's a fair rate," says Rochon.

The committee has also recommended that when council members use their own vehicle for a municipal function, that they be reimbursed as per the National Joint Council rate. Each council member will continue to be provided $100 per month to pay for technology items necessary for their work. Also, meals would continue to be reimbursed upon receipt, rather than providing council members with a set dollar amount they are allowed to spend when dining out. 

Rochon explained to Council that it does not seem fair to set a specific amount for meal allowances, as prices can vary greatly from one location to another. The example he gave is that if a councillor is given $60 per day for a meal allowance while attending a conference in Toronto, they might be forced to pay a lot of extra money from their own pocket just to eat each day. On the other hand, if they were expensing a meal in their ward, the bill might be much less and ratepayers probably would not like the idea of council members pocketing whatever they did not use from that meal allowance.

Rochon told Council that when determining the new indemnity rates, his committee compared data from other municipalities, but also spoke with Ritchot Chief Administrative Officer Mitch Duval. Rochon says his committee agreed that the role of mayor and councillors is seen as a value to Ritchot communities. Also, he says that in order to attract quality people, a fair compensation package needs to be offered.

"(Council is) seen as a valued, valued commodity to the people," adds Rochon.

"I'm a huge proponent for this," says Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen. "I always learned if you are good at something don't ever do anything for free, and that might be aggressive but it's the reality. There is time to volunteer and there is time to do work for pay."

Council gave first reading to the recommendations of the Indemnity Committee. Ewen says these changes show that there is value in the work of council.

"Going forward for all councils in Manitoba, I believe every single one of them deserve fair compensation for the position of mayor, reeve, councillor, and very few municipalities are there," adds Ewen.