RMWB city council, lowest paid elected officials

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Weekly

RMWB award winners and nominees of the Citizen Recognition Program, just one of the many programs the mayor and council take part in throughout the year. FILE PHOTO.

RMWB award winners and nominees of the Citizen Recognition Program, just one of the many programs the mayor and council take part in throughout the year. FILE PHOTO.

Council members and our mayor of Fort McMurray are some of the lowest paid elected officials in Alberta and British Columbia. Several places that have a similar population as our region pay their mayor and council higher wages. In fact, some places that are smaller and do not have as high a population as Fort McMurray pay their mayor and council more.

Given the diverse area our elected officials serve, it is one question that may come up when council returns from their summer recess. As it stands currently councillors earn about $36,000 a year and often put in over 30 hours a week in their role, while some weeks can often exceed that number of hours.

In the last number of months, the Tuesday night meetings could often turn into marathon sessions, with items from the agendas getting bumped and when that happens projects and decisions can get delayed unnecessarily.

So once council comes back from recess, we will see another huge change, when they change the format and will start meeting on a weekly basis to cover more timely issues on the agenda and perhaps have shorter meetings since things will be handled every week.

Even though they are all currently on their summer recess, many have decided to stay in town and will be attending various events during the 2015 Western Summer Games.
And Anzac Days will be held over the third weekend of August, as well as, many other events throughout the communities that fall within our region.

But the Western Games will be the focus of our mayor, council and many of our residents in the coming days. The event has been five years in the making since Fort McMurray made the bid to host the games.

We will host thousands of families, athletes and coaches and will bring a boost to the local hotels and restaurants that have noticed a slowdown in the last few months. The Games will allow us to show off to the rest of Western Canada how great our city is and many are saying that the visitors will leave with some jealousy at how fantastic our venues are able to accommodate the athletes. It will be a time for our region to shine and show our community pride.

In 2017, we will once again be playing host. Councillor Allan Vinni has worked hard to bring the quarterly board meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to our region in the fall of that year.
It will see over 120 elected municipal leaders from across the country coming to our region and it will be another wonderful opportunity to spread the word on all that our region has to offer.

No doubt there will many other opportunities to host various events once Fort McMurray starts getting recognized for having world class facilities, and the commitment from the community members to support such events as conferences, trade shows and other large scale events.

The success of the 2015 Western Summer Games will serve our region for years to come as thousands come and have a positive experience and then leave to share that experience with people from all over Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories.
Best of luck to all the athletes and coaches. And a huge thank you to all the volunteers and those that had the vision all those years ago to make this all happen in Fort McMurray.

To share comments, concerns or story ideas for Council Connects, please contact Verna Murphy at mackdale@hotmail.com.

– Connect Weekly –