By Nancy Kelly
Berwick will retain its complement of six councillors and one mayor heading into the fall municipal election.
The recommendation, drafted by an ad hoc committee of citizens and councillors established to look specifically into this issue, was based on the requirements for representation on internal and external committees and agencies and a recent decision by the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board (UARB) denying another municipal unit’s request to reduce the size of its council.
In that decision, the UARB further ruled a plebiscite would be required to make any changes to municipal council structures. In April, the UARB did approve the Town of Shelburne’s application to reduce the size of its council from six to four members.
At the June 12 meeting, council also approved a new rate structure and ratios for councilor stipends. Despite any clear formula to determine amounts, the working group reached a consensus on the issue.
Effective April 1, the mayor’s stipend increased to $14,962. Under the current ratios of 40 and 45 per cent of the mayor’s renumeration, councillors earn $5,985 per annum and the deputy mayor’s honorarium sits at $6,733.
In April 2013, the mayor’s stipend will increase to just over $16,000 and pay ratios for the deputy mayor and councillors will be increased at the same time from 50 to 55 per cent, bringing their respective annual stipends to the $8,800 and $8,000 mark.
A recommendation the honoraria for all elected officials be adjusted in April of each year to reflect changes to the consumer price index was also approved by council.
The committee report cites the new stipends will bring Berwick more in line with other small towns in the province, including, Middleton, Lunenburg, Trenton, Digby, Hantsport, Bridgetown and Wolfville, as reported in a recent comparative survey conducted by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.