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'The right thing': Bradford councillors pass their 57% pay raise

Phased approach also includes significant salary increases for mayor, deputy mayor
The flag of Bradford West Gwillimbury blows in the wind in front of the town’s financial services building.

Salaries for councillors are officially on the rise in Bradford.

Council passed the new council compensation bylaw including raises for the mayor, deputy mayor and all seven councillors during its meeting Tuesday, May 7.

As result, by Jan. 1, 2026 the annual salaries are set to increase for each of the seven councillors to $39,235.79, for the deputy mayor to $49,113.16 and for the mayor to $91,332.16.

For the position of deputy mayor, that’s an increase over what was originally included in the bylaw, thanks to a last-minute amendment.

Ward 3 Coun. Ben Verkaik asked to have the deputy mayor’s salary increase by the same percentage as the councillors, who are now set to see their salaries rise by about 57 per cent.

Based on an amended bylaw displayed during the meeting, the deputy mayor’s salary is now also set to increase by about 57 per cent to $49,113.16 from the current $31,255. That’s about $4,975.59 more than the $44,137.57 originally included in the bylaw.

According to Verkaik, the amendment was necessary because the ratios used to determine the deputy mayor’s salary “just didn’t make sense.”

Currently, the salary for the deputy mayor is $6,285 more than the salary for a councillor, but after the increase initially included in the bylaw, that difference would have been reduced to about $4,900.

“I’m not doing this to score political points,” he said. “I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”

Ward 5 Coun. Peter Ferragine suggested there shouldn’t be any increases, and Ward 6 Coun. Nickolas Harper criticized the timing of the amendment.

“I just think it looks really greedy to actually bring this forward right now at the 11th hour,” he said.

Verkaik explained the issue would have come up at the last meeting, when compensation was debated, but things were “chaotic.”

The amendment passed in a recorded vote which received approval from all members except Ferragine and Harper, who also voted against the bylaw.

Incremental increases

The raises for all members of council are set to take a phased approach split into three increments, and starting on June 30 of this year, the annual salary for each of the ward councillors is set to increase to $30,224.53 from $24,970, for the deputy mayor to $37,832.92 from $31,255, and for the mayor to $62,625.66 from $46,866 as that last position transitions from part time to full time.

On Jan. 1, 2025, those amounts are set to increase again for the councillors by $4,505.63 to $34,730.16, for the deputy mayor by $5,640.12 to $43,473.04 and for the mayor by $14,353.25 to $76,978.91.

On Jan. 1, 2026 the final phase of the increase is set to raise salaries by the same amounts for councillors to $39,235.79, for the deputy mayor to $49,113.16 and for the mayor to $91,332.16.

For each of those years, the increases are also set to include cost-of-living increases at the same percentage given to non-union employees each year.

Even before the amendment, the 2026 amounts in the bylaw were all slightly greater than what was approved at the April 16 council meeting, which was for councillors’ salaries to increase to $38,093, the deputy’s mayor’s salary to increase to $42,852 and the mayor’s salary to switch to full time and increase to $88,672.

Those figures were based on a report from the resident-led council compensation review committee, who recommended the increases and shift to full-time compensation for mayor.

However, town chief administrative officer Geoff McKnight explained the committee was working with values from 2023, which were updated for the bylaw based on the town’s 2024 non-union cost of living increase — which is three per cent.

The committee originally recommended the raises take effect at the beginning of the next term of council anticipated to be Nov. 1, 2026.

However, Mayor James Leduc explained that council decided to begin phasing in the increases sooner rather than later to ensure that candidates running for municipal council in late 2026 know exactly what their compensation will be and won’t be faced with “the same unpopular dilemma” faced by this council.

According to the committee’s report, Bradford council’s compensation was last reviewed in 2015.

“Providing fair compensation for councillors will help to remove economic barriers to potential candidates that may otherwise choose to not seek office,” the mayor said via email.

McKnight explained June 30 was chosen because it coincides with a pay period and is mid-year, while the Jan. 1 dates coincide with the start of each fiscal year remaining in this term.

No impact on tax rate

While the additional compensation in 2024 will result with an overage in that line of the council budget, McKnight explained it will be managed within the overall year-end variances and the 2024 budget will not be amended.

That’s good news for residents, since the town’s 2024 property tax levy is actually set to increase a little less than expected and council also approved the 2024 final tax levy bylaw at the same meeting.

According to a report from revenue manager Jackie Syme, the increase has been finalized at 4.21 per cent, or about an additional $217 for the average home, which is a slight improvement over the 4.24 per cent (or about an additional $219 for the average home) approved by council on Jan. 16.

The town’s total tax rate also includes external factors including the police budget, County of Simcoe budget, and provincial education tax, and at the time of Bradford’s budget approval, the values for the county and education portions were still estimates.

With those values finalized, town staff were able to perform the final budget calculations, and the 2024 property taxes for all classes will be due on June 26 and Sept. 26, according to the report.

While property taxes cover about 43 per cent of the town’s operating budget, about 24 per cent is funded through water and wastewater rates and about 33 per cent comes from other revenue including provincial grants and subsidies.

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Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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