Cleary's salary freeze plan gets cold shoulder | The Coast Halifax

Cleary's salary freeze plan gets cold shoulder

“Maybe you shouldn’t have run for council if you didn’t want the conditions that come with council?” asks a sassy Russell Walker.

click to enlarge Cleary's salary freeze plan gets cold shoulder
Councillor Shawn Cleary getting frozen out by Richard Zurawski.
Shawn Cleary’s plans to freeze council salaries will have to wait a few more weeks.

The Halifax West Armdale councillor proposed holding remuneration for the next eight months in a motion at Tuesday's meeting of Regional Council.

Cleary's motion would have restricted any further increases to council's pay until either November 1, or the arrival of a staff report on council’s pay formula—whichever came first—that was
requested last fall by deputy mayor Steve Craig.

But both Craig and Cleary's efforts weren't all that appreciated by some of their colleagues.

“I do not understand why council wants to punish themselves with this three times in a year,” said Russell Walker about the multiple salary motions that have come forward in the last several months.

Walker claimed his residents in Halifax–Bedford Basin West don’t care about his salary and suggested Cleary and Craig’s reasons for bringing the issue forward were personal.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have run for council if you didn’t want the conditions that come with council?”

Those comments earned Walker a gentle reminder from mayor Mike Savage not to question his fellow councillors’ motivations.

Other councillors were just tired of being pilloried in the press about the matter.

“I don’t see the point of doing this every three, four years and falling into the pitfalls we have, that are basically a media construct,” said Richard Zurawski.

“I’m done with this, OK?” said a weary Bill Karsten, who apparently had fought his last “battle on [this] hill.

“I say this respectfully to our CAO who is beloved in this community; it’s a flaw to have him give us that recommendation,” said Karsten, about the upcoming staff report. “I can’t say it any clearer than that because anywhere where you see good governance from coast-to-coast-to-coast, it’s somebody external that makes the decision.”

The motion from Cleary came a month after council received an automatic 3.4 percent raise retroactive to November 1—a financial cushion that awkwardly landed smack-dab in the middle of budget talks about fiscal restraint and several union negotiations with HRM’s employees.

Cleary's motion was ultimately deferred by a vote of 10-7, to be discussed again once Craig's staff report comes back at the end of April.