Fair pay for the new warden’s job?

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Added: Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:23pm
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During June’s Council of Mayors meeting (see page 6), a majority voted in favour of setting the elected warden's annual income at $38,400 plus expenses, for a total of $54,800, the provincial minimum; this represents a $20,000 increase from what the warden currently earns ($34,800 annually). However, the amount will be reviewed at budget time, and it can only increase.  
Four mayors voted against the amount, with one saying it is too low, is out of touch with the value of the position, and could discourage qualified candidates from applying if they have to take a wage cut from their current occupations in order to do so. He isn't entirely wrong; this could very well happen, but isn't the reverse just as likely? Could less qualified candidates be attracted by a high price tag? 
Here's the kicker: there's no experience necessary to become the next warden. This isn't a job interview where the most qualified person is chosen – although all voters should be treating this election, and any election, with seriousness and selectivity. So many other factors can determine who wins an election; campaign strategy and the funds invested in it, popularity, who family and friends are voting for, area voting trends, etc. Anyone with a notion can join the warden’s race, and there's no guarantee that the most suitable candidate with the most experience will win. An inflated wage could make matters worse.
Current warden Raymond Durocher, who recently announced he will be
running for the position, stressed the average income in the Pontiac is in the low $20,000s and candidates should be motivated by a desire to improve and
promote the Pontiac region rather than a getting a high-paid job. 
He admitted more time was invested in his position as warden than mayor of Fort-Coulonge, but he was still able to do the two. “It isn't fair to my municipality,” he said, noting a major difference of having an elected warden will be the credibility of the person's image in front of government officials and regional bodies – “a warden elected by the population rather than his/her peers”.
Does this “image” demand a lot of extra compensation? An extra $20,000 seems more than reasonable for any extra time and duties required of  a full-time warden.
The decision to elect the MRC Pontiac's warden via a public election was a big one and it comes with increased costs to taxpayers ($65,000 for the election on top of the increased salary). It's important that the remuneration offered matches the region's ability to pay ... there's no room for hefty city price tags here! It's a lot
easier to raise a wage than to decrease it once reality sets in.

Allyson Beauregard
Managing Editor