$500K for two wards – Metro US

$500K for two wards

A five per cent raise for aldermen has the city in uproar — but the monetary implications of that could be nothing compared to adding two more aldermen to the roster.

If City Council supports Ald. Andre Chabot’s motion to increase the number of wards from 14 to 16, it could mean a heavier burden for taxpayers, but not much long-term benefit, according to some.

“The bottom line is rarely do we create better government by adding more politicians,” Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Scott Hennig said.

Each ward is allocated a budget of $139,192 for salaries of assistants, communications, business expenses, travel and courses and seminars. Aldermen also receive a salary of $96,940 per year, a $3,000 spending account and a car allowance of $9,400.

For two more aldermen, this will be an added cost of close to $500,000 per year.

But Hennig says that’s just the beginning.

“I don’t think the salaries are going to be the bigger problem,” he said. “I think it will be the cost of entertaining their pep talks. They are going to debate for longer periods. Aldermen like to take on things like arts funding and sports facilities to ramp up their popularity — all this will drive up the cost.”

Ald. Joe Ceci doesn’t want to add two more aldermen either.

“I don’t think taxpayers want to see it happen, or see the additional cost for them,” Ceci said.

Stephanie Kelly, 23, says she can’t handle any more taxes. She’s a mother of two and a new homeowner.

“Right now, they need to be focusing on better representation, rather than more representation,” Kelly said. “At this point, they need to be focusing on the problems at hand — like the recession — rather than bringing in more costs to taxpayers.”