Robinson township local services board will consider providing remuneration to fire chief

ROBINSON TOWNSHIP – The Robinson Township Local Services Board (LSB) will be considering the township providing a remuneration to the current and future township fire chief at its upcoming budget meeting.

“This issue has been raised previously and we wanted to come back to this and discuss whether we should be looking at paying a remuneration for the fire chief,” said Tim Mackinlay, chair of the Robinson LSB. Mr. Mackinlay was addressing local ratepayers at a pre-budget meeting held last week to get local residents’ input on issues relating to this year’s budget. “The job has gone far beyond what would be expected as volunteering,” said Mr. Mackinlay. “It is not a full-time job, but I know our fire chief spends a lot of time involved in firefighting work.” 

“I just wanted to get a discussion started on this issue,” said Mr. Mackinlay. “Do we want to consider having an honorarium in place for our current and future fire chiefs?” He explained he had discussed the topic with other municipalities on Manitoulin about if and what they pay in remuneration for their fire chief. He found that Billings Township provides a stipend of $6,000  per year in honorarium to the fire chief, as well as a lower stipend for officers and captains. In Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, an honorarium of between $16,000-20,000 is provided for the fire chief; in Gore Bay it is $8,000, Tehkummah Township provides a remuneration of about $15,000 and Central Manitoulin provides approximately $23,000. 

“Certainly, I am interested in providing a remuneration for the fire chief,” said Dave Watts on the Zoom meeting. “Obviously, we can’t afford to pay the fire chief what he is really worth. If you calculate the hours (fire chief) Doug (Wismer and his wife) Jane put in work for training, maintenance and paperwork etc. we couldn’t afford to pay what they really should receive. We as a township have a responsibility to recognize the effort that is put in now, and to also be able to attract a new fire chief in the future. But I don’t have any idea how much we would pay. But I’m in support of moving in that direction.”

“I agree 100 percent,” stated another local resident at the meeting. 

Lyle Addison said, “It is just a matter of time before we have to attract a new fire chief for the township. The fire chief needs to be paid an honorarium and we need to do this before Doug (Wismer) retires. What a blow it would be to him if we start to pay an honorarium after he retires as fire chief.”

“Doug does a wonderful job as fire chief,” said Mr. Addison. “I’m in favour of providing an honorarium to our fire chief and if an amount of, say, $10 were provided per taxpayer it would be about $5,000. That would keep us in line with other areas.” 

As the meeting was only a pre-budget session, Janice Frame questioned how to get the word out that this issue will be on the budget meeting agenda.

“Yes, this is being brought up tonight to kick off conversation and taxpayers will know that this will be on the agenda at our budget meeting,” said Mr. Mackinlay.

The LSB considered many other issues that it will consider at its budget meeting. With input from members of the public, the board may look to stop supplying blue boxes for residents. On the agenda budget meeting a vote will be taken to see if there is interest to having an additional one or two garbage pickup runs, having an official Robinson Township website developed and look at having a ‘Welcome to Robinson Township’ sign erected at the township border, among other issues.