Proponents hope increase will lure more candidates

Iqaluit council passes mayor's pay hike


Iqaluit's mayor got a pay raise Tuesday after council voted

4-2 to increase the office's salary to $70,000.

Previously, Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik was paid $40,000 a year, but supporters of Bylaw 666 hope the pay hike will boost interest amongst potential mayoral candidates at the next election.

Sheutiapik was acclaimed during the most recent city elections in Oct. 2006.

"I would love to see five, six, seven people run for mayor," said Coun. Glenn Williams, who supported the bylaw. "If this stirs up and removes apathy, good."

While most councillors agreed Sheutiapik works hard enough to deserve a $70,000 salary, Coun. Claude Martel argued the new pay scale is too rich, no matter who's mayor.

"When I came to office I didn't expect to be paid," he said. "That seems that's what it's all about now: money."

Coun. Al Hayward said people in the community have told him the mayor doesn't need a $30,000 raise. And he argued council should have made changes to the mayor's pay package immediately after the last election.

"We're changing the rules halfway through."

But the bylaw's third reading passed easily, with Williams and councillors Jimmy Kilabuk, Jim Little and Simon Nattaq voting in favour. Martel and Hayward voted nay.

Coun. David Alexander, this month's deputy mayor, didn't vote. He took over the chair when Sheutiapik declared a conflict of interest.

Tuesday's decision comes after a grueling, four-hour finance committee meeting Jan. 18 that left council almost exactly where it started – a bylaw that would pay the mayor $70,000 per year, one-third of which is tax free.

The vote also ends a 10-month saga that saw a March proposal to hike the mayor's pay die without the necessary council support.

That prevented the matter from coming back before council for six months. The bylaw passed Tuesday had been in front of councillors since mid-November.

During that meeting, Hayward tried to pass an amendment to the bylaw that would require the mayor to work 40 hours per week, attend 95 per cent of council meetings, and attend at least 40 other meetings of city committees, community hearings and groups like the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.

But chief administrative officer John Hussey said the city can't legally enforce those requirements because the mayor is elected and not technically a city employee. The mayor, like other councillors, is forced to resign if he or she misses three consecutive meetings without an excuse.

Hayward withdrew the amendment after more than an hour of debate.

The only significant change came from Williams, who successfully argued that mayors and councillors who are unemployed, self-employed or work part-time should qualify for $250 a day to cover lost income when travelling on city business. The draft bylaw had extended that per diem only to mayors and councillors with full-time jobs.

Council also began its annual line-by-line budget hearings Wednesday.

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