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Dufferin Committee Volunteer Pay Decision Pushed Off



Dufferin County councillors have deferred deciding whether public members that volunteer on committees should be paid honorariums, until 2022 budget considerations.

At the June 24, 2021, Dufferin County General Government Services Committee meeting, staff presented a report recommending remunerating public members of committees and advisory groups with honorariums of $100 per meeting. This would include the recently approved Tourism Advisory Group and the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Community Advisory Committee. If both the current number of members and scheduled meetings are maintained, staff expect the total cost to be $36,900 per year under this proposal. Up to $24,000, approximately 65%, of these funds could go to the ten members of the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Community Advisory Committee. 

Chart based on the table contained in the Compensation for Public Members on Committees/Advisory Groups Report in the June 24, 2021 GENERAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE AGENDA
Based on the table contained in the Compensation for Public Members on Committees/Advisory Groups Report in the June 24, 2021 GENERAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE AGENDA

“Maybe that’s a little high,” said Dufferin County Councillor and Mayor of Grand Valley Steve Soloman regarding the amount of the honorarium.

Dufferin County’s chief administrative officer Sonya Pritchard told how a survey was performed in 2015 on how much other municipalities were paying public committee members. According to the report, 2015 was the same year Dufferin ended the practice of paying honorariums. Before honorariums to public members stopped, Dufferin County was paying $50 per meeting, whereas Pritchard stated that the survey results showed that most other municipalities were paying $100.

“I don’t know that we want to be too vastly different from other municipalities around us,” declared Warden Darren White, Mayor of Melancthon. “Some of these meetings are two and three hours long, and then, I guess for lack of a better term, homework that people are doing outside as well.”

Mono’s Deputy Mayor John Creelman, Chair of Dufferin County’s Government Services Committee, pointed out the lack of consistency at both the municipal and county level regarding which committees get honorariums. 

“There’s no rhyme or reason between ones that do and ones that don’t,” declared Creelman. “The $100 may be high here, but there are other municipalities where what they’re paying is frankly a pittance to the amount of work that goes into the membership on those committees.”

Councillor Wade Mills, Shelburne’s Mayor, explained how he had no problem with the notion of providing an honorarium; it was just a matter of timing.

“The issue I have is doing it halfway through our budget this year and then drawing from reserves,” remarked Mills. “If this is a direction we’re heading in, I would prefer to hold off until next year, formally incorporate it in our 2022 budget, unless there is a reason not to do that.”

The staff report describes that to cover payments made in-year, the county would draw from the rate stabilization reserve meant to smooth impacts to the tax rate. The annual recurring expense would be added to all yearly budgets in the future. 

Mills went on to say that all current public members of committees applied for their roles without the expectation of monetary compensation, so he did not feel the councillors were ‘prejudicing them in any way.’ 

“There are likely going to be sufficient in-year savings that we could cover this amount with, if council wishes to go ahead with it at this point rather than waiting until the new year,” advised Pritchard. 

Furthermore, Pritchard informed the committee how the Tourism Advisory Group had not received all its applications yet. She said that it might prove helpful to have the honorarium in place for that committee as it is being formed. 

At a Community Development and Tourism Committee on the same day, the county’s tourism manager Terrilyn Kunopaski indicated that there may currently be challenges attracting people to the Tourism Advisory Group. On the inDufferin website, it is shown that the initial deadline for applications had already been extended to June 21. Kunopaski shared that the closing date will be even later than that. 

“We had planned on getting that off the ground relatively quickly, but for a few reasons. and now, because of summer and availability, we have decided to push the deadline for applications until August,” delineated Kunopaski to the Community Development and Tourism Committee. “I would appreciate any support in you sharing through your own channels as well to encourage community members to apply and be a part of that conversation.”

One can learn more and apply to the Tourism Advisory Group by going to the InDufferin website.

At the General Government Services Committee, Orangeville’s Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh agreed with Mills’s sentiments on waiting until the new budget year. Macintosh had concerns with the number of meetings some committees held each year and the cost that would entail. The Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Community Advisory Committee having twenty-four meetings a year, in addition to its size of ten members, is why it would cost up to $24,000 annually.

“Like that’s a lot of money, and I hate to sound like somebody in Amaranth, but I don’t want to turn this into a full-time job for people,” said Macintosh, who suggested the possibility of a maximum amount per committee. “I just worry that it could get out of hand if people decide to have a meeting a week sort of thing.”

Councillor Guy Gardhouse, Mayor of East Garafraxa, agreed, suggesting that the number of times the tourism group was scheduled to meet also may need to be reduced. 

Pritchard proposed adding wording into the motion so that the policy comes into effect at the beginning of the 2022 budget year. Councillors instead decided to receive the report and further consider paying public committee members during budget deliberations in 2022 to review the policy intricacies, such as the payment structure. 

“I think that this would benefit from a discussion come budget time,” pronounced Creelman, “But I think we have to be consistent in how we treat volunteers who give up time and devote energy to these committees, especially some of the newer ones, which I think are critical.”

References – Dufferin Committee Volunteer Pay Decision Pushed Off

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