What is the value of a councillor?
The question was inadvertently raised at the last council meeting when the notion of reducing the size of Golden’s council from six to four was discussed.
Coun. Keith Hern brought the motion forward, citing cost savings as the main reason for the reduction.
By his calculations, the Town of Golden would save an average of $29,148 per year (with wages and additional expenses) by eliminating the two positions.
This represents 20 per cent of the budget for council (Hern’s calculations based on 2012 numbers), and 0.4 per cent of the overall budget (based on the total 2013 budget in the Town’s five year financial plan bylaw).
A penny saved is a penny earned. The money saved by reducing council’s size could go towards other projects.
And if the value of a councillor can be measured purely by a dollar figure, then the move would make sense. Coun. Hern has run on a platform of fiscal responsibility (an ideal that many people in Golden support) ever since his election campaign last fall, so it is quite logical that he would support such a motion.
And if this were a town who’s public servants gave the bare minimum I might be inclined to agree with him.
But ever since I moved to Golden I have been blown away by the time and energy every single councillor and the mayor puts into the community.
Each of them goes above and beyond what is required of them, attending not just council meetings (open and closed), but countless committee meetings and community events on a weekly basis.
I haven’t been to a single public meeting where there wasn’t at least one representative from council present. And I go to a lot of them — of course, I get paid to do so.
This is all on top of their full time jobs, businesses, families, and other commitments.
One councillor told me that the cost to cover his business while he is busy with council duties is higher than what he is paid to be a town councillor.
There is a lot of value in the time these people put into Golden that can’t be assigned a number. Their contributions to the community cannot be solely judged and evaluated based on what they cost in tax dollars.