Motion in Mayor's inner circle could lead to $45K boost in funding per ward

A motion before the mayor's inner circle could lead to an increase in ward allowances to help councillors pay for office staff.

During the Executive Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday, councillors voted for the motion to be referred to next year's budget process.

The motion calls for the budget to be examined with a focus on boosting funding in each ward by $45,000, as well as providing benefits and pensions for councillor's staff.

It also suggests allowing councillors to access corporate communications staff to help ease the pressure of keeping in touch with constituents due to the increasing use of social media and remote meetings.

The motion passed though EPC in a six-to-one vote, with Mayor Brian Bowman being the only one to vote against it.

He said now is not the time to be considering a funding increase.

"Right now I don't believe this should be a priority for city council," he said during a media availability on Wednesday. "I think we're in the middle of a pandemic. There are many other needs in our community – businesses, not for profits – that's my priority, that's my focus."

The motion notes there's been a high turnover rate among council office staff, with more than 50 per cent turnover among the Councillor’s Executive Assistants since the current term of Council began on October 24, 2018.

The motion points out Winnipeg city council has the second-lowest level of funding per capita for office operations, and is the only jurisdiction which doesn't provide a pension.