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Winnipeg councillors vote unanimously to cut their own salaries

In the latest example of the new cooperative atmosphere at city hall, Mayor Brian Bowman managed to convince members of Executive Policy Committee to cut their own salaries on Wednesday.

And not only was the vote unanimous, the mayor and councillors appeared almost happy to give up nearly $12,000 each.

“It’s a symbol to everyone saying we’re tightening our belts and coming in to a very difficult budget process,” said councillor Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo).

“I think all councillors should be paid the same,” added John Orlikow (River Heights- West Fort Garry).

The salary cut was one of seven motions from Bowman that were approved by EPC. Others included supporting the United Way’s homelessness strategy, placing limits on councillor expense accounts and creating a new office of policy analysts.

The administration was also asked to report back on incorporating art into all capital projects, establishing an online volunteer management system for community centres, and developing landscaping and safety standards for parking lots.

But EPC did not endorse Bowman’s motion to eliminate severance packages for councillors. The issue was sent to council without a recommendation, over Bowman’s objection.

“I made my views very clear during the election, and I’m going to honour that commitment, and regardless of the outcome of the vote at council next week, I will not be taking a severance at any time,” Bowman said.

Based on the revised salary figures, Bowman would be giving up a severance worth more than $38,000 when his first term ends in 2018.

Didn't expect all of EPC to support severance axing: Bowman

He came prepared for a fight, but instead his inner circle delayed the bout.

Mayor Brian Bowman told media after Wednesday’s executive policy committee meeting that he would have preferred to see his EPC support his motion on the elimination of what some councillors call “severance” and the mayor calls a “political payout” when council members decide not to run for re-election or are voted out.

Instead, EPC pushed the motion on to the Dec. 10 city council meeting without an endorsement.

“This is a difficult issue for councillors, especially those who’ve been here for some time, to deal with and we’re going to have a vigorous discussion next week, I anticipate,” said Bowman, adding he had conversations with all councillors about this topic last week.

“I wanted to let them know that this was coming, I wanted to let them know this was something that I was very serious about.”

Asked if he expects EPC to support his motion next Wednesday, as was usually the case with his predecessor Mayor Sam Katz, Bowman said his only expectation is that “they’ll show up and they’ll be ready to discuss the issues.”

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said he isn’t convinced that all cases should be treated the same way, adding that he agrees in some instances, such as if a councillor leaves mid-term, the severance shouldn’t kick in.

-Bernice Pontanilla

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