Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell presides over Canada’s ninth largest city, but she’s number one across the nation when it comes to mayors’ salaries.
According to reports released last week, Fennell’s city and regional base pay for 2012 earned her $213,727. She received $162,839 from the City of Brampton and $50,888 from the Region of Peel, on whose council she automatically sits as mayor of Brampton.
Across Canada, the next highest mayor’s salary in 2012 was Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, at $201,839. Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion made $187,057, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford earned $172,803 in 2012.
Fennell did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson wrote in an email that the salary was decided by a “citizen-based committee” that reviews compensation and makes recommendations “on a research/objective based approach.” The recommended amount was validated by a private evaluation firm as “being in line with comparable public sector organizations.”
But Chris Bejnar, a spokesperson for the group Citizens For a Better Brampton, takes issue with the size of Fennell’s pay.
“Since when should the mayor of Brampton be making more than the premier of Ontario ($209,000 in 2012) the mayor of Toronto or the mayor of Mississauga?” said Bejnar. He pointed out that Ford heads a city more than five times the size of Brampton, and argued that Fennell should be showing better fiscal leadership while many of her citizens are struggling in the wake of a recession.
“It’s ludicrous. This doesn’t seem right.”
In addition to Fennell’s base salary, she received a further $14,682 (including expenses) from Peel Region for her time serving on the Police Services Board.
According to the city and regional reports, her salary and benefits for 2012 totalled $245,833 — which does not include her $23,524 car allowance, or the $45,726 Brampton taxpayers spent on providing her with a driver.
None of the mayors that responded to Torstar News Service on Monday employ a driver. Mayor Ford and Mayor McCallion, who is 92, also do not have drivers.
Brampton councillors who also happen to sit on the regional council were among the highest paid council members in the country, earning $129,058 in 2012.
Budget chair Gael Miles declined to comment, saying she had yet to read the report.
Councillor John Sprovieri, who also sits on regional council, said he and his colleagues who represent wards have to share one staff member between two councillors, and therefore their workload is far greater than that of some other cities’ councillors. In Mississauga, he said, councillors each have two staff working for them.
“I do all my research, deal with my residents’ concerns, take their calls and emails, all myself — 140,000 people in the two wards me and another councillor represent together. Right now, I’m dealing with the issue of fluoride in water, myself.”
Sprovieri also pointed out that Fennell has a larger staff. She has five people working in her office.
“I can’t speak for the mayor,” Sprovieri said. “You’re going to have to get her to justify her staffing and her pay. I would hope she has some answers.”
2012 MAYORS’ PAY FOR CANADA’S 9 LARGEST CITIES
- Susan Fennell, Brampton $213,727*; pop: 523,911
- Naheed Nenshi, Calgary $201,839; pop: 1,096,833
- Hazel McCallion, Mississauga $187,057*; pop: 713,443
- Rob Ford, Toronto $172,803; pop: 2,615,060
- Jim Watson, Ottawa $168,102; pop: 883,391
- Gérald Tremblay, Montreal $156,128; pop: 1,649,519
- Gregor Robertson, Vancouver $145,581; pop: 603,502
- Stephen Mandel, Edmonton $135,694**; pop: 812,201
- Sam Katz, Winnipeg $123,910***; pop: 663,617
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper earned $315,462; pop. 33,476,688
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially earns $225,000 but accepts only $1 and does not use the Gracie Mansion residence; pop. 8,244,910 (U.S. Census)
* Includes Peel Region council pay
** Entitled to $158,813, but took a lower salary
*** 2011 salary; 2012 figure not available
Population source: Statistics Canada 2011