Naturally the matter of salaries has always been a concern to the members of the Association. One secretary-treasurer once expressed it this way - "It has some affinity to the quality of bread and butter I put on the table". In the depression years salaries were severely reduced even though the work load had increased far beyond what it had been. The average annual salary in 1936 was reported to be $1,300.00. One problem in trying to establish a standard of salaries was the uneven work load from one municipality to another. In 1934 the Department of Municipal Affairs was asked to classify municipalities as to work load with the object of setting a scale of salaries. Even though salaries were very low in the depression years some councils fell into arrears in salary payments. In 1939 it was reported that the total arrears of secretaries' salaries amounted to $80,000.00. A mail-in vote conducted by the Executive in 1946 on the question of establishing a minimum salary revealed that only 25% of the membership was in favour.
In 1956 convention resolution directed the Executive to establish a basic minimum salary. A committee of the Executive drafted a schedule of suggested salaries to be used by councils, as a guide, having regard to local circumstances and work load. The S.A.R.M. Executive endorsed the schedule and agreed to circularize all municipalities before the end of the year suggesting they use it as a guide in setting the salary for the following year. The average salary increase in 1957 was reported to be $850.00. The S.A.R.M. convention the following March voted against the adoption of the schedule but many councils had already accepted it and eventually most councils have used it.
It has become the practise each year since then for a committee of the Association to present a brief on salaries and working conditions to the S.A.R.M. Executive even in years when zero increase is requested. The original schedule of 1957 has been upgraded from time to time but it is still the basis of the present schedule.
Members became concerned over loss of salary in the event of short or long term disability. Each member was asked to discuss the matter with his/her own council to determine how long they felt they would be obliged to continue salary payments in the event of disability. The replies indicated about a two year average. Using this as a guide, discussions with the S.A.R.M. in 1966 lead to the short term (two years) disability benefits plan administered by the S.A.R.M. and financed by contributions from rural municipalities. To supplement the S.A.R.M. plan a long term disability benefits plan was negotiated with Continental Life Insurance Company through Wm. C. Mercer as brokers and financed by a levy on the members of the Association.
The employer - employee relationship that exists between the S.A.R.M. and R.M.A.A. is unique at this time when the norm in employer - employee relations if of an adversarial or confrontational nature.