Original Published on Aug 16, 2022 at 03:02
By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Elected officials in Nelson will see a bump in wages in the next incarnation of city council.
A city staff report revealed an underpaid group of city councillors and mayor compared to similar sized cities in B.C., and recommended an increase to the remuneration for council of 5.14 per cent, moving salaries from $26,212 to $27,560 for city council.
The mayor’s salary was bumped by 12.69 per cent, from $62,263 to $70,170, also as recommended by the report.
Although the report and the increase was accepted and passed by the outgoing city council, there was some hesitation. Coun Jesse Woodward admitted during the Aug. 9 regular council meeting that how much elected officials were paid was a pretty touchy subject.
“Having been through two years of pandemic, and it’s been a hard time for people … I guess I am feeling a little bit gun shy considering what we have just been through as a town,” he said. “I am worried about public perception.”
Coun. Rik Logtenberg, who will not be seeking re-election, had no problem standing in the line of public perception and supporting a remuneration increase.
“The amount of work that goes into this job, and with the remuneration, there is a big disconnect, I think. And I think this job goes way beyond these meetings, it goes beyond even the prep for the meetings. It’s constant,” he said.
“On that front, just in terms of the dollar per hour, I would really want the next council to not be struggling for every spare dollar that they can just to make this job work. What was proposed was very reasonable and it was below inflation.”
The process undertaken to recommend the increase was lauded by Coun Keith Page, explaining that it was important at the outset that they arrived through a fair and equitable procedure to develop a number that made sense.
“We have arrived at numbers that put us in the median of the basket we have put together for remuneration. I think these numbers are fine. It’s barely a smidge up for council over that time,” he said.
The outgoing mayor and council review and set remuneration in advance of the next local government election allowing for wages to be competitive with that of other comparable municipalities.
“A reasonable level of remuneration for mayor and council ensures that they are fairly compensated for their public service,” the city staff report explained.
The increase to council and mayor remuneration will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2023.
Looking further afield
Under the Council Remuneration Review Policy, city staff compared the remuneration (including benefits) with a group of nine comparable municipalities based on: the population of the municipality; the amount of staff the municipality employs; the municipality’s operating and capital budgets; the municipality’s building permit construction values; and the scope of the municipality’s services.
The nine municipalities were: Courtenay; Esquimalt; North Cowichan; Oak Bay; Port Alberni; Salmon Arm; Squamish; Kitimat; and Dawson Creek. Population in the municipalities ranged from 8,236 to 31,990.
Most municipalities in the sample group indicated that they use CPI to adjust remuneration on annual basis.
Source: City of Nelson agenda
This item reprinted with permission from The Daily, Nelson, British Columbia