Sarnia Councillor Bill Dennis Has a motion on the table at the next council meeting “that any compensation related matter (including eligible expense criteria or other financial reimbursement matters) for Sarnia City and City/County Council members be referred to a Committee of private citizens (to be established) for recommendations to be submitted to Council for their consideration.”
I like the accountability and transparency of this direction. I stated before that there is an awkwardness to voting on your own compensation, but the possibility of taking advantage of choosing your salary is high. All you need is a majority of councilors that don’t care to get re-elected to push it too far. I think this helps by relieving public relations pressure while bringing a balance between preventing a false kind of modesty and overpaying ourselves.
Of course, we are establishing a committee that council still has to vote on one way or another, so this could be perceived as a way to not have to face into the political rock and a hard place of such a decision. It could just be seen as giving political cover. And we already have access to the provincial averages (that I linked to in my previous post) that we can make the decision based on. What extra recommendations could a committee provide?
That said, I still like the idea of involving citizens in this process as long as the committee was made up of a diverse group of folks that had a basic understanding and experience in public finance. I doubt they need to provide recommendations for every individual eligible expense or not, but I see a lot of value as having as much input as possible into all matters of compensation.