Barring a change of heart between now and the finalization of the Hamilton Budget in the New year, Hamilton Councillors will get an increase in their office budgets. However, it will be half of the amount proposed last week in a motion by Councillors Cameron Kroetsch and Alex Wilson. The two councillors had proposed raising all members’ office budgets to $375,000 per year which would have added $1.2 Million to the global office budget for councillors. The amended plan will see each budget increase by $40,000, or $600,000 overall, which will allow part time staff to become full time, or allow the engagement of an additional part-timer. Currently most councillors’ offices are staffed by one full-time and one part-time employee.
Councillors who spoke on the issue said the volume of inquiries from constituents has increased significantly in the past term and extra resources are needed to handle the calls. A recent letter to the Hamilton Spectator talked about a councillor’s phone not enabled to leave voice messages and e mails not answered.
When the motion was presented last week a number of those opposed objected to the matter being placed on the agenda before the budget deliberations had had a chance to take place, and before departmental budgets had been presented. As a result the proposal failed 8-6. The vote on the increase will now be moved to January in the normal course of the budget process, which satisfied Councillor Tom Jackson.