Councillor Isitt responds to public opposition to pay raise

WatchVictoria city councillor Ben Isitt is responding after a public online survey revealed an opposition to a pay raise for councillors.

Victoria city councillor Ben Isitt is responding after a public online survey revealed opposition to a pay raise for councillors.

The survey revealed 86 per cent of the 5,100 respondents strongly disagreed with adjusting their salary.

Isitt directed staff back in November to report back on the financial implications of increasing the annual salary and benefits for members of council to the median income of full-time city employees —  from $45,000 a year to more than $70,000.

“I welcome receiving this feedback from the public. Public opinion region-wide appears to support limiting Victoria city councillors to part-time remuneration and duties,” said Isitt in a statement.

“[This] based on the results of this unscientific questionnaire of self-selected residents from Victoria, Saanich, Langford and other communities.”

Isitt says to achieve this outcome Victoria should shift to the model in Saanich, of evening meetings rather than daytime meetings so councillors can engage in regular employment.

“Public access to councillors could also be reviewed, shifting to a lower level of responsiveness to correspondence, meeting requests, telephone calls and media inquiries,” he added in the statement.

“This would allow councillors to focus their part-time hours on core duties of attending formal council and committee meetings and reading staff reports to supervise municipal operations.”

Councillor Geoff Young admits council has a heavy workload but he questions whether part of the reason is because of how many ideas are constantly being put forward.

“We’re just churning through a lot of ideas, a lot of debate and really we should be doing some of that stuff but we’re probably doing more than we should,” Young said.

Victoria’s mayor says most Councillors are working at least 60 hours a week, and there hasn’t been a salary review in 10 years but she says there’s a better way to go about it.

“It’s unpopular to look at salaries but I think it does need to be done by an independent group that is not the council itself,” said Helps.

A review is currently scheduled for 2021 as part of the city’s strategic plan.

After the announcement back in November, the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the move.

“Nobody has ever told me that the problem with city council is that they don’t get paid enough, or they don’t do enough,” Catherine Holt said on November 15.

She said her members would be concerned if Victoria councillors received a 50 per cent hike.

“Victoria is one of 13 municipalities that businesses pay business taxes to. If we pay more to this council what does this mean for Saanich? What does that mean for Oak Bay?”

READ MORE: Victoria city councillors looking for taxpayers to support a 50% pay hike


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