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Severance packages for Watson, departed councillors cost Ottawa taxpayers $633,000

Ottawa City Hall (CTV News Ottawa) Ottawa City Hall (CTV News Ottawa)
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Former Mayor Jim Watson received more than $99,000 in severance from Ottawa taxpayers after leaving office in November 2022, as part of the "transition allowance" for outgoing elected officials.

In total, the city paid out $633,033 in 2022 and 2023 to Watson and the 10 councillors who left Ottawa City Hall after the November 2022 municipal election.

The city of Ottawa provides a so-called "transition allowance" of one month's pay for each consecutive year of service, up to a maximum of six months, for members of council who did not seek re-election or are defeated in the municipal election.  The city paid out $264,044 in severance in 2022, with a report for next week's Finance and Corporate Services Committee meeting showing the "transition allowance" cost the city $383,989 last year.

The transition allowance is based on the annual salary of $198,702 a year for the mayor and $111,111 for a councillor.

Watson received a severance of $99,351 following 12 years as mayor of the city of Ottawa. The former mayor received $74,131 of the "transition allowance" in 2023 after receiving $25,220 in 2022.

Departing veteran councillors Eli El-Chantiry, Jean Cloutier, Keith Egli, Jan Harder, Mathieu Fleury, Catherine McKenney and Scott Moffatt received $55,555 each in severance.

Former councillor Diane Deans received her full "transition allowance" of $79,547 in 2022. Deans was eligible to receive a "frozen entitlement" of $22,991 from the pre-amalgamated city of Ottawa in addition to the six-month transition allowance.

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan received $37,000 as a "transition allowance" for her single term on council.

Rick Chiarelli

Former councillor Rick Chiarelli was eligible to receive the maximum transition allowance of $9,259.25 a month for six months, equalling a total of $55,555.

The reports show Chiarelli received $14,103 in 2022 and $14,103 in 2023.

The former council voted in November 2022 to dock Chiarelli 90 days pay after a report by the integrity commissioner found the former College ward councillor violated council's code of conduct by bullying and harassing a female staff member.

2023 salaries

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and all 24 councillors earned six figures in 2023.

Sutcliffe's salary is $198,702. Each councillor earned $111,111 in 2023.

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