Rockwood council indemnities to increase

Rural Municipality of Rockwood chief administrative officer Chris Luellman (left) and reeve Wes Taplin discuss matters during a council meeting in Stonewall, Man. on April 10, 2019. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times)

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Council for the RM of Rockwood voted on April 10 for a significant increase to their own indemnities, claiming it will bring theirs closer to other municipalities in the Winnipeg METRO Region. Deputy reeve Art Goudy was the only councillor to vote against the motion.

Effective retroactively from Jan. 1, reeve Wes Taplin will receive a monthly indemnity of $1,525, a 24.6% increase from $1,224 as per the previous indemnity bylaw, whose rates were in effect since 2016. The deputy reeve, Art Goudy, will receive $1,282 per month, compared to $981 from last year, a 30.7% increase. The other councillors will each receive $1,250 per month, a $300 increase.

The hourly rate for council members, as compensation for time spent in a council meeting or any approved services with regards to the operation of the RM, has also risen  from $16.90 to $22. Council members will also receive a daily indemnity of $154 for authorized municipal business outside the boundaries of Rockwood.

Allowances for mileage (50 cents per kilometre) and business telecommunications like internet and cell phones ($100 per month) remain unchanged.

Since 2000, the average yearly increase to a council member’s indemnity ranged from $17 to $21, but the RM had researched the indemnities of other councils and determined that council’s new rates are lower than the average in the METRO region.

In 2018, Stonewall council received monthly indemnities of $1,633.33 for the mayor, $1,450 for the deputy mayor and $1,200 for other councillors. In 2017, in the RM of Rosser, the mayor received $1,503.68, the deputy reeve $1,021.30 and other councillors $783.84. In the RM of Woodlands, reeve Lori Schellekens receives $923.24 per month, deputy reeve Lorna Broadfoot $895.84 and other councillors $820.84. Monthly indemnities for Teulon council, who meet only once a month unlike the other municipalities, are $485 for mayor Debbie Kozyra, $440 for deputy mayor Michael Ledarney and $425 for the other councillors.

Taplin acknowledged that the increase was significant, but also stated  the increase can attract more residents to run for council.

“We’re trying to deal … with something that brings us up so that we’re equitable compared to other municipalities,” he said. “When most of us here are working everyday  and we come here to do the best we can for the municipality and we lose money doing it, I don’t think that’s fair to us and I don’t think that attracts people to represent the municipality.

“We want the best for our municipality, but we don’t want to lose money by having to take away from a daily wage that we could be making someplace else. We shouldn’t lose money to represent the municipality and we’re here because we care about it.”

Rockwood council notes

Geoff Reimer, an independent consultant, spoke to council regarding the development of a surface water management plan for the RM. Some of the topics discussed included Jennifer Creek and Jackfish Creek, water retention and tile drainage.

• A motion to increase waste disposal fees was tabled by council to their May 8 meeting, but one of the changes will be a 100% surcharge for all non-residential waste.

• Council passed first reading of the RM’s 2019 budget and financial plan which will be unveiled to residents in a public hearing inside council chambers on April 24.