Huntsville Council has agreed to take a ten per cent wage cut for the remainder of the year and forgo remuneration during special electronic meetings in solidarity with staff who have been laid off as well as community members who are suffering financially during COVID-19.
The decrease in wages, approved today at its April 29 meeting, will take effect on May 1, 2020. The motion, as first presented, was brought forward by Councillor Jonathan Wiebe.
“I hear the words leadership and I hear the words leading by example. I felt that to task our senior staff with laying off so many of our wonderful staff members while keeping our salaries intact—it never sat right with me and I know Councillor [Nancy] Alcock was kind of one of the first to even float some semblance of this idea,” said Wiebe who put forward a motion to reduce council’s salary by 10 per cent for six months starting May 1, 2020.
“This is the opportunity… to lead by example and reduce costs and this is one of the ways that we can do that so I’m hoping that my colleagues are behind this,” he added.
Councillor Tim Withey took the recommendation one step further and suggested that the stipend for emergency meetings also be eliminated “because we may be called on to meet a little more often because of this global pandemic, so I think we could make up the 10 per cent on the backs of emergency meetings so I would add that to this mix.”
Councillor Dan Armour suggested that the initiative could be taken to the end of the year, rather than the next six months.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the resolution. You can find a list of what your councillors made in 2019 here.
Huntsville CAO Denise Corry gave council an overview of the staffing situation at the municipality. She said 98 per cent of the Town’s part-time staff has been laid off as a result of the pandemic.
“We have also refrained from hiring 98 per cent of the seasonal staff which we do hire. We have hired a few staff in our parks area just to assist with the minimal maintenance that we’re required to do but we’re pretty much down 98 per cent of our seasonal staff,” she told council.
“With respect to our full-time staff, we are currently working at a reduced full-time equivalent of about 30 per cent, so roughly 30 per cent of our full-time staff are currently not here,” Corry added. “Now some of that is through layoffs as a result of COVID, some are on short-term or long-term medical leave, and other positions we have determined that we won’t fill them in an effort to save some money with respect to not filling those positions during the closures.”
Corry said approximately 45 individuals are currently working from home, and a number of staff members are still present at municipal facilities.
She said the municipality’s senior management team continues to check in on those working from home and “making sure that all is well and they’re remaining healthy during these difficult times.”
Corry said the Town’s senior management team is working on a recovery plan to be put into effect as restrictions are lifted and continue to monitor the municipality’s finances and financial help that may become available for municipalities.
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