Colwood council voted 5-2 in favour of a pay increase for mayor and councillors at a Monday meeting.
Discussion at the council table was similar to the week before, where most councillors were in favour of the raise saying they hoped it would encourage more diverse candidates to run.
“If you take a look at the makeup of this table, we’re all pretty comfortable. Every single one of us owns our own homes, and is that the right makeup of this council?” Coun. Gordie Logan asked.
“I would probably suggest no, and in order to accurately reflect the true makeup of our community, I think we need to recognize that there are some that may need an incentive to be able to step up, to make it worthwhile.”
The remuneration increase was recommended by an independent task force put together by volunteers in the community. The city put out ads asking for volunteer participants, and five people put their names forward to be on the committee. Only four ended up making up the committee after one of the volunteers had unforeseen circumstances that led to them withdrawing.
Coun. Cynthia Day is one of two who voted against the motion, but her opposition was based on a recommendation by the committee to tie council remuneration to population size, arguing it will incentivize councillors to vote in favour of development.
“Per capita remuneration does not reflect the work that’s needed, and residents need to be represented, not developers,” Day said. “It’s really important that our residents feel that they have council members who are looking out for them, and there’s no way that you can tie performance of your council members to the amount of money that they get paid.”
The current salary for the mayor is $32,992.14, while councillors receive $16,496.07. Based on the current population from BC Stats, that puts the salary at $1.74 per resident for the mayor.
The report recommends raising that stipend to $3.22, which would put the mayor’s salary at $61,054.42 and councillors at $30,527.21. Salaries for the councillors are currently set to be 50 per cent of what the mayor’s salary is, and the report recommends keeping that practice.
Councillors Dean Jantzen and Stewart Parkinson both noted that at the current salary, if Colwood staff were paid at similar pay rates no one would want to apply to work for the city, and staff would be leaving to go elsewhere.
However, Parkinson argued that serving on council should come with some sacrifice as it is a public service, and to reflect that he moved that the recommended pay rates be reduced by 30 per cent.
“This isn’t a job, this is a public service like we’ve talked about,” Parkinson said, noting there are many people in the community who volunteer for free to do things like pick up garbage to make the community a better place.
“What do I do when I’m coming up to city hall for meetings and Al’s picking up garbage and I go, ‘good job Al, I’m getting paid, you’re not.’ And that’s what made me realise that the numbers that were presented were probably spot on accurate, but I think they should be discounted to reflect the fact that this is a public service.”
Parkinson’s motion to reduce the pay by 30 per cent failed in a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Rob Martin, and councillors Logan, Dean Jantzen and Michael Baxter voting in opposition.
Coun. Doug Kobayashi, who also voted against the motion, said he would like to see this report sent back to the committee to consider other methods to come up with an amount that council pay should be raised.
He said the committee looked at the average salary of select municipalities, but argued it should have considered the median salary instead — which is what the Union of B.C. Municipalities recommends as a method to use when considering raising council salaries.
“I thought that the motion…should go back to committee and ask them to consider other factors in their comparative analysis,” Kobayashi said. “Do it per the guide, and go with the median value and not try to pick and choose which one’s high and which one’s low, and just let the math work out the way it does.”
The pay increase is set to come into effect starting in Jan. 1, 2023 for the incoming council following the municipal election on Oct. 15.