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Puslinch council debates 4 per cent cost of living adjustment for employees

Council did pre-approve enhanced snow clearing for this winter
The latest Puslinch’s 2022 operating budget focused on a proposed four per cent cost of living adjustment, and a pre-approved budget approval  of  $74,424  for  the  proposed new equipment operator. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

TWP. OF PUSLINCH – The latest Puslinch’s 2022 operating budget discussion focused on the proposed four per cent cost of living adjustment for township employees.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the council debated whether four per cent is sufficient for the current climate or not. 

Last year, council approved zero per cent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for its employees, as Puslinch director of finance Mary Hasan explained that no cost of living adjustment to wages would keep the township in line with other Wellington County towns. 

This year, however, a proposed four per cent adjustment is set to go into effect on Jan. 1. 

Hasan explained that the COLA will be determined and incorporated in the base operating budget based on the consumer price index (CPI) for Ontario from August to August and the COLA determined by other municipalities surveyed in the township’s compensation 

Council members were in disagreement with the four per cent adjustment, feeling it was too high.

Coun. John Sepulis noted that other municipalities are settling around two per cent, which Coun. Sara Bailey agreed. 

“I suggest going with two per cent because, historically, we have never gone above 2.3 per cent,” said Bailey. 

Coun. Matthew Bulmer explained that the wording in the recommendation should be changed as council is currently looking at the rolling average of the COLA. 

“If we had a policy that said it was a five year rolling average of COLA from August to August, it would make our discussions easier. There’s a 1.8 per cent hike this year, the CPI average is 4 per cent, and a rolling average basis of 4.018 per cent increase. We need a policy that we can commit to and is fair for staff as they have been working hard,” said Bulmer. 

Council agreed to reconvene before the final budget meeting with regards to COLA, and motioned staff to create a report that states their perspective on the proposed COLA. 

The 2022 operating budget presented on Wednesday excluded any tax levy increases associated with the proposed 2022 operating base budget increases. 

Council approved a pre-budget approval of $74,424 for a new equipment operator as a new regulation requiring all sidewalks and roads to be cleared of snow has come into effect this year. 

Hasan noted that the township is now regulated that all sidewalks and roads are all clear before the commencement of school and allocated a plow truck. 

“We need a new equipment operator right now, as winter is right around the corner,” Hasan said.  “Moving forward, we’re regulating a two to three hour window to clear all sidewalks near schools and the other time is allocated to smaller parking lots and cul de sacs.”

Council all approved and authorized the pre-budget amount.

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Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Angelica Babiera is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Wellington County. The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada
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