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Morinville councillors tweak pay arrangements

In the last meeting of their term, Morinville councillors made some minor tweaks to their salary, which will give the next council a slight raise. Councillors left their base salary unchanged at the Sept.

In the last meeting of their term, Morinville councillors made some minor tweaks to their salary, which will give the next council a slight raise.

Councillors left their base salary unchanged at the Sept. 14 meeting but made changes to their per diem rates.

The base salary for the mayor will continue to be $25,300 per year, while councillors will bring in $12,300 a year. When serving as deputy mayor, a councillor’s salary rises to $15,500.

The salaries only cover their standard duties within Morinville such as attending weekly council meetings, but when they are taken out of the community for other meetings, they are paid a per diem.

The per diem is intended to cover meetings like the Capital Region Board or the regional wastewater commission, where a council member is required to represent Morinville.

Council changed that per diem to $200 per day from $180 and eliminated a half-day rate of $110.

Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said with the travel involved and the simple length of the meetings, the half-day rate was simply not being used.

The new per diem rates will only apply to the new council, who will be sworn in after the Oct. 18 election.

The per diem rates tend to be a significant portion of council’s overall salary. In 2009, the mayor earned slightly more than $35,000 when it was included according to the audited financial statements.

Councillor salaries ranged from $14,788 to $26,309.

Administration suggested a number of other changes to the policy on council pay, but most of those were altered or rejected by council.

Council members had been receiving a $500 reimbursement for office expenses, but administration suggested changing that to a $75 per month rate for cellphones and office expense reimbursed on a receipt basis.

Council rejected that approach and kept the $500 reimbursement.

The policy was also not set to be reviewed again until December 2013, but Coun. Joe Gosselin, who is not running again, suggested that review be moved up a few months so it would happen before the 2013 election.

Gosselin said he thought it made sense for council to change the salaries and then face an election, not the other way around.