Council Pay Explainer

It's been a wild week at Calgary City Council.

One councillor was removed from a council meeting by a vote of the other councillors, accusations were thrown around, and lots of misinformation was spread.

All of this disagreement centred around, you guessed it, councillor's own pay.

There's been a lot of confusion on social media, so here's what actually happened.

On Monday, Council debated whether to freeze their pay for 2019 instead of receiving an expected 2.34% pay increase.

At the last minute, the city's CFO claimed that, based on her estimates, council pay was actually going to go down and so voting for a freeze would see councillors paid more than if they voted against the motion.

Councillor Farkas had looked at the official figures and believed the CFO's estimation was wrong.

So, first, he proposed a 5% decrease in pay which would have made the issue irrelevant - council rejected this entirely.

Then, he proposed amending the motion so that their pay would go down if the formula showed it should go down, and be frozen if the formula showed it should go up - also rejected.

Finally, he proposed that council wait a few days to see the final number before voting - they refused and voted the motion down anyway.

After the vote, when Councillor Farkas pointed out that, based on the official numbers, voting down the freeze is the same as voting for a pay increase, Council called him a liar and kicked him out of the council meeting!

Fast forward three days and it turns out that Councillor Farkas was right, and the city's CFO and the rest of Council were wrong.

The official figures show that Council's pay is set to go up 2.37%, and the CFO's estimate of a 0.44% decrease seems to be based off an old, inaccurate formula.

We still believe it's essential that Council sets the right tone for pay negotiations with city staff.

While many Calgarians have had pay cuts, or even lost their jobs, city staff pay is up 17% since the oil downturn.

A pay freeze is the absolute minimum required for council and staff.

We hope they'll reconsider.

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