While the city administration has begun the process of proceeding with a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find external consultants to review elected officials' compensation and resourcing, the administration asked for and was granted a deadline extension during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Initially, on May 7, the motion directed the administration, through an external consultant, to provide city council recommendations on implementation options with costing by September 30, 2024, to conduct the following with a completion date no later than January 1, 2025.

Charlotte Satink, with the city's legislative Services, explained why the administration was asking for the extension.

"For scheduling and deliverable clarity that will guide the work of an external consultant, the administration is asking the council to amend the originally written resolution passed for the external consultant to provide council [a] report of its findings and recommendations by December 3, 2024, instead of September 30."

She added that the December 3 deadline would ensure that city staff would have enough time to prepare election information to communicate to potential candidates for the next election by January 1, 2025. Council unanimously passed the amendment, which stated:

"That Council directs Administration, through an external consultant to provide Council with a report of its findings and recommendations by December 3, 2024 of the following deliverables..."

Last month, The Notice of Motion which was initially brought forward by Councillor Heather Spearman and approved by council, aims to, among other things be 'a complete analysis of the amount of time each Council member currently performs in their role as an elected official for official municipal matters such as Council Meetings, Council Committees meetings, Strategy Sessions, Budget Meetings, and Legal Training Sessions.'

According to council documents, on May 7, the council approved a budget amendment for this project, which stated that '... Council approves that a budget amendment of up to $125,000 be funded from the general operating reserve for the Elected Officials Compensation and Resourcing Review.'

However, in a social media post dated May 13, Councillor Spearman aimed to clarify the price tag attached to the review.

"Last week, a motion I brought forward got approved unanimously by council. At first, Administration said, it would cost up to $125,000. After several changes and much deliberation, we scaled back the ask - but every council member recognized that it was ultimately something we needed to undertake as an organization. Additionally, before the project launches, the cost and scope will still have to come back to council if all the bids were to come back significantly higher."

She stated that it would not cost, 'anywhere near $125,000. I know some reporting on the motion claimed that it would, and I think you should all be made aware that this is not the case.'

She further explained the reasoning behind bringing the motion forward, highlighting that Airdrie continues to be the fastest-growing city in Alberta and that demands on councillors have evolved over the years.

"[In 2021] in the election package each candidate received, stated that councillors could expect to work roughly 10 hours per week - but this has been in the job description for decades when we were a fraction of the size we are today," Councillor Spearman noted.

She also stated that councillors are required to, 'work more during daytime hours when the role advertised evenings and weekends.'

"Each councillor sits on multiple external committees and has additional meetings regarding diverse projects such as the new library, the northeast regional park, and the new rec centre. We are asked to attend other meetings outside of council days, regularly, on a multitude of subjects."

However, she surmised that councillors do this work for the people that elected them.

"Moreover, I am always thinking towards the future, and whether or not I am in a seat at City Hall or not, it is important to me that any future candidate has a full understanding of what the time commitment will look like while being able to set boundaries for their own work-life balance, mental health, and other commitments such as family and work."

During the May 7 council meeting, it was noted that although up to $125,000 was allocated, Satink underlined that the costs for hiring third parties for such a task could vary widely, with the lowest cost estimated at $70,000.

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