Scott Moffatt is asking residents to help him give his money away.
The Rideau-Goulbourn councillor was one of at least two city councillors who opposed a small cost of living adjustment on his salary this February, on the grounds that he campaigned he wouldn’t give himself a raise.
Now, he’s asking his constituents to suggest ways to give away the approximately $900 extra he’ll receive this year and another $1,800 he’ll get next year.
While Bay Coun. Mark Taylor said during last month’s council meeting that he would write a cheque back to the city for the difference, Moffatt said he thinks the money would be better off going to a charity or project that serves the Rideau-Goulbourn ward.
“I’m curious what people think either way,” he said. “There’s no harm in asking (residents’) opinions on it.”
Moffatt said he is refusing the raise because of a comment he made during a North Gower debate on the 2010 campaign trail. A resident asked the five candidates if they would vote to give themselves higher salaries.
“My response was that I would be getting paid three times what I (was then) so I’m not too concerned about getting a raise,” Moffatt said. “I was worried about getting elected, not about a salary I didn’t have yet.”
That remark was a promise, Moffatt said.
“It’s something I said and if I don’t stick to my word on things my word isn’t worth very much,” he said.
About 60 suggestions have come into Moffatt’s office so far. One gentleman suggested somewhat facetiously that Moffatt could just give it all to him. A handful of others have encouraged the councillor to keep the raise they say he deserves.
The majority of the suggestions have focused on supporting community projects, initiatives and charities.
The biggest problem, Moffatt said, is choosing a project or charity that would benefit all of the communities in his far-reaching rural ward, which includes Burritt’s Rapids in the far south, Manotick, Kars and North Gower to the east and Richmond, Munster and several other hamlets in the west end.
“You look at ROSSS (Rural Ottawa South Support Services): there’s a group that provides transportation to my entire ward,” he said. “Or there are food banks across the communities and they’re further reaching than just in that community.”
Moffatt has already politely refused a few calls to support specific village events, like the one he received from Manotick Village Community Association president Klaus Beltzner. Beltzner said funneling the extra cash into community events would offset a potential cap in councillor donations currently under review at the city.
“There are other ways my office can support events aside from a straight cash donation,” Moffatt replied to him in an email, suggesting that facility rentals wouldn’t count as donations, and could be used to support events in light of a donations cap.
Of course, his extra money doesn’t need to all go to one charity or project. The raise could be split between a number of groups.
“A lot of people could use a help. Not everyone’s looking for $1,000. For some organizations $200 is a pretty strong donation.”
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