Enersource saga over for now

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO - Mississauga council has backed down from its ultimatum to the board of Enersource, its hydro utility – agree to a massive salary cut, or be fired.

They didn't agree, and they weren't fired.

Instead, a compromise hammered out on the council floor will give city-appointed citizen representatives on the board the same salaries initially ordered in April, while three city councillors who sit on the board – Carmen Corbasson, Nando Iannicca and Sue McFadden – are being punished with an even bigger cut.

They'll now get only $500 for each committee meeting they attend, while being required to attend monthly board meetings for free. But the demand for a signed agreement has been dropped.

The recent 5-3 vote was a response to the trio's decision, along with the rest of the Enersource board, to quietly refuse the council-ordered pay cut and instead hire a consultant to make recommendations on their pay.

The consultant subsequently suggested they should be paid more.

For the three councillors, who sit on one or two committees each, the change means they'll earn only $8,000 to $9,000 a year for their work at Enersource – a further cut from the $15,000 salary council had previously ordered, and a far cry from what they used to earn, up to $44,000.

The motion that was passed says the decision will be effective until next May, at which point a new salary structure for board members will be decided on in discussion with Borealis, the 10 per cent minority shareholder that balked at the salary cuts. Mississauga owns 90 per cent of the corporation.

It's still unclear, however, whether the vote will put an end to the long Enersource saga at city hall.

There's no indication whether Borealis has changed its mind.

Council voted earlier this year to cut the board chair's salary to $40,000 a year from $70,000, and regular board members down to $15,000 from as much as $44,000. But it wasn't until almost five months later that some councillors learned that Borealis holds a shareholder veto on any such decisions.

Angry councillors voted recently to force board members to sign an "irrevocable" agreement to accept the pay cuts because they sit at the pleasure of council.

"It's not legal," councillor and Enersource board member McFadden insisted after the vote, echoing a sentiment by Iannicca, who said he was "shocked and bewildered" by the council decision.

"Council still doesn't understand the rights of a minority shareholder and the corporate governance of an independent board," Iannicca said.

Both councillors show no sign of following the lead of Mayor Hazel McCallion, who decided in the midst of the Enersource controversy earlier this year that she would take no extra pay for sitting on the board, giving up the estimated $32,000 salary she had collected for that service in past years.



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