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Trent Lakes may end retirement honorarium

by Terry McQuitty

The Municipality of Trent Lakes may be eliminating a termination honorarium that has been in place since the 1990s. Council received a report from CAO Lois O’Neill at its May 6 meeting which explained the program as well as an exit strategy.

The termination honorarium was developed for long term municipal employees. The program allows $320 per year of service for full time employees who terminate or retire on or after the age of 60 and who have a minimum of 10 years of service and are eligible for an Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) pension.

This benefit is part of the defined benefits obligation of the municipality which is reported annually in the consolidated financial statements. The current obligation to this program is $194,502.

O’Neill proposed revisions to the program which included capping the $320 honorarium per year to $5,000 for full time employees who retire prior to January 1, 2019, and the elimination of the program for those who retire after the suggested date. The reasoning for the phasing out of the program is to give those counting on the money in their retirement a heads up.

Mayor Janet Clarkson questioned if such programs existed in other municipalities. O’Neill responded that if they had these programs in place they have been eliminated.

It was suggested that this program was implemented because the previous municipalities did not have OMERS and this was a form of pension package.

Councillor Madeline Pearson made the motion that council follow the recommendation put forth by O’Neill.

After carefully considering the impact on employees counting on the benefit, Deputy Mayor Ron Windover seconded the motion.

A vote was held and the results were Madeline Pearson and Ron Windover for and Janet Clarkson and Bev Matthews against.

Mayor Clarkson tabled a second motion that would see the termination honorarium eliminated at the end of this fiscal year. A second vote was taken and the results were Madeline Pearson and Ron Windover against and Janet Clarkson and Bev Matthews for the motion.

It was agreed that the issue would be re-visited once Councillor Don LaCombe returns from sick leave. In the meantime the plan will continue on its original track.

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