Council compensation study reveals “poor cousins” standing
At Frontenac County's regular council meeting, which took place in Sydenham on July 15, council discussed a council compensation study prepared by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kelly Pender and Treasurer Marian VanBruinessen.
The study addressed market equity and compensation policy objectives for the county, and compared Frontenac with nine counties in Eastern Ontario: Prince Edward, Brant, Perth, Lennox and Addington, Elgin, Dufferin, Lanark, Peterborough, and the united counties of Prescott and Russell. Council directed staff to undertake the study because council's expenses have not been reviewed since it was expanded to eight members in 2010.
The study resulted in 10 recommendations. The findings were surprising given the fact that even though Frontenac County Council’s size at eight members is below the median of 11 in the study, each councilor in Frontenac County on average represents 2304 dwellings versus the median of 1699. The study found that the current compensation for Frontenac's County warden at $17,000 is well below the median of $40,400, and that the current compensation for Frontenac County councilors at $7,400 is below the median of $17,400. One of the recommendations is to compensate councilors and the warden at the medians mentioned above, and that the deputy warden receive compensation at 20% above that of the councilors.
Further, the study showed that the current per diem for a councilor at $75/day is below the median of $150/day and another recommendation was that council adopt the per diem median of $150/day. This would be applied only to non-regularly scheduled council and council committee meetings. The study also reported that five of the nine counties in the comparator group provide an annual training/seminar allowance to councilors ranging from $2,250 to $6,500 and averaging $4,000 as the median allowance. The study recommended adopting such an allowance, the amount of which would be determined at a later date.
The study also looked at determining what kinds of duties fall under “base” compensation and which are eligible for per diem pay. It suggested that all regular council, budget meetings, meetings associated with a position appointed by council, and ceremonial functions be covered by base pay and that any special meetings, conferences, and group/agency meetings wherein the group agency does not pay a per diem, that the per diem pay be included.
The study recommends that all expenses and per diems require the submission of an expense claim for expenses with an approved policy and that the current practice of receiving council approval for attendance at conferences be replaced with an expense budget that can be utilized at the discretion of a council member, with regular reporting to council and citizens.
While the study recommended implementing the increases in compensation over a four-year period, it also included the financial implications for implementing them in 2015. The report adds that a 2015 implementation would result in a deficit position for the council budget for 2015.
Council had a lengthy discussion regarding the results of the study and its recommendations, with Frontenac Islands mayor and county warden, Dennis Doyle, stating that these increases seem reasonable and that implementation need not be delayed for four years.
South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal said he could not support these increases. He deemed them “unjustifiable” and said he was “unsure if the study was comparing “apples with apples”.
Councilor John McDougall supported the base pay concept proposed in the study since it would make a councilor’s job of keeping track of expenses more straightforward.
Deputy Warden Frances Smith showed her support stating, “I think that people have elected us because of our talents and abilities and the amount of time we spend on council business and these recommendations show the real cost of us doing business every day. We need an increase and this is the time to do it. I believe that the public will respect that.”
Councilor Inglis stated that the meat of the study shows that “We are the poor cousins in Eastern Ontario here” though he felt the percentage increase seemed “too huge at roughly 150%”. He wondered how taxpayers would feel about it.
North Frontenac mayor, Ron Higgins, agreed with Inglis and wondered why council was looking at “implementing this now instead of at budget time”. Councilor Vandewal reiterated that the only thing he could support at this time is the pay per diem, adding that the rest of the recommendations should be deferred since they pose budget implications.
In the end council deferred the motion to their regular meeting in October 2015.
Management/non-Union Compensation Study
A second report to council prepared by CAO Kelly Pender, which came about when the county identified how its “compensation practices and legislative requirements for the management and/non-union group of employees were deficient and placed the municipality at risk”, resulted in a number of recommendations to council. These included that the 2015 Ladder Chart and Pay Bands be implemented in October 2015 at a cost of $7,241 and that future cost implications be included in base budgets as approved by council. It further recommended that staff be directed to prepare and finalize a pay equity plan for management/non-union group in accordance with Pay Bands as required in the Pay Equity Act. Currently the County has total of 24 management/non-union positions and the study and the recommendations are intended to limit existing corporate risk related to issues of pay equity, market equity, service delivery and organization review and internal equity. Council overwhelmingly agreed to the recommendations. South Frontenac mayor, Ron Vandewal, was the one council member opposed, stating, “It goes too fast for my liking though I do support pay equity”. Vandewal requested a recorded vote for a motion supporting the recommendations, which was passed with Vandewal being the only council member voting against it.
Joint CAOs' policing report unveiled at County
The report, which will be circulated to all Frontenac member councils for their consideration, was prepared by a joint committee of chief administrative officers (CAOs) in the four municipalities, and was undertaken with the hopes of finding ways to reduce the costs of police services in the county. Currently, all four municipalities in the county receive their policing services through the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). While the report states that “the viability of establishing an independent force is cost prohibitive, with the geography of the county making any other model difficult to implement”, the study aims to centralize services by investigating a more regional approach with the goal of reducing costs and creating more effective service delivery.
There are four policing models utilized in Ontario: 1) by contract with the OPP; 2) a single stand-alone service for an entire municipality; 3) service procurement whereby the municipality purchases all or a portion of services from a neighbouring municipality; 4) or lastly, forming a stand-alone regional service.
The study resulted from changes in 2015 to the OPP funding model for municipalities, wherein individual pricing was replaced with a fixed OPP formula plus level of service model that has eliminated all price negotiations between the OPP and municipalities. Table 2 in the report shows a summary of OPP policing costs from 2009-2019 in all four municipalities and shows that total costs in the county from 2009-2019 are expected to increase 81.6%, with Frontenac Islands and North Frontenac having the biggest increases, 222.8% and 326.4% respectively, over the same time period.
A third table in the report shows a summary of police costs for 2013 per household in the County, with the costs for Frontenac Islands, South Frontenac, Central Frontenac and North Frontenac listed as $64, $234, $188 and $57 per household respectively. Those costs are expected to rise considerably by 2019, with the overall average in the county estimated at $281 per household.
The report does state that due to the new OPP funding model, “cost projections become more difficult to compare.” The report goes on to confirm that the Town of Perth, which had its own police force until 2014, projects to save $900,000 by moving to an OPP contract, whereas the Town of Gananoque rejected an OPP costing option for 2013.
The report also mentions that the City of Kingston, as well as the counties of Chatham-Kent, Kawartha Lakes, Stirling-Rawdon have their own forces, with the latter now looking at OPP costing.
The report mentions that in 2011 South Frontenac held discussions with the City of Kingston re sharing services but were advised that the city could not beat the OPP’s cost per household for South Frontenac.
More recently the City of Lanark held discussions with the City of Ottawa, though no conclusive results were available at the time of the study.
The report says that the requirement for shared services can and must only be from abutting jurisdictions, which limits Frontenac County to just three options, one of which is to receive services from the City of Kingston. For this case, the report notes that should one municipality in Frontenac opt out, another municipality would likely not be able to receive services. So, for example if Central Frontenac opted out of receiving police services from Kingston, then North Frontenac would likely not be able to receive Kingston services even if it opted in.
The report also suggests that while the Town of Gananoque might service Frontenac islands, perhaps a case could be made for extending those services throughout the county. The City of Ottawa was also noted as an option but only if Lanark was serviced as well.
The report concludes that any study of the options for policing in the Frontenacs would involve discussions with neighbouring municipalities and their police service boards.
The report recommended that, “No action be taken at this time but rather options continue to be evaluated in light of the work of the Association of Municipalities”.
Mention of the AMO elicited frustration from a number of members of council, with Deputy Warden Frances Smith saying, “ I suggest that we just keep saying to the province 'Take it back; take it back; take it back.'”
South Frontenac mayor, Ron Vandewal, said that policing costs should “not just be the AMO's job but it should also come from the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus”.
CAO Kelly Pender stated that Ontario is one of the highest policing costs jurisdictions in North America and said that the AMO is looking at new policing models that use less expensive people when possible and their position is more about policing reform.
CAO Pender suggested that a member from the AMO could be invited to give a presentation to council to explain how the county can become more involved in police reforms through the AMO. Council passed a motion accepting the policing report for information, with an amendment inviting the AMO to county council to do a presentation in the fall.