Report recommends Sooke council members give themselves a pay raise

Report recommends Sooke council members give themselves a pay raise

Sooke council members should give themselves a pay raise, a new report recommends.

Currently, Sooke’s mayor receives an annual salary of $31,500 while councillors earn $15,750 in annual remuneration — roughly in line with other similar-sized municipalities in the region.

However, a recent district staff report recommends that the mayor’s base salary increase by nearly $16,000 to $47,432 annually and councillors’ base salaries climb by more than $4,300 to $20,062 annually.

It provides council with two suggested options for applying the increase, which they will be asked to vote on at their upcoming meeting on Monday (April 25) night.

The first option, which is district staff’s preferred choice, is to apply the base salary increase in November 2022 after the municipal election. Under this option, mayor and council would receive their current salaries until the end of October, after which point their new base salaries would kick in for November and December. A 2.5 per cent cost of living increase would also be provided. Should council select this option, the mayor’s annual salary for 2022 would be $34,812 while councillors’ salary for the year would be $16,797.

The second option is to apply the increase retroactively to the beginning of the 2022, thus allowing mayor and council to receive annual salaries of $47,432 and $20,062 respectively. There would also be a 2.5 per cent cost of living increase which would bring the mayor’s total remuneration for 2022 to $48,618. Councillors’ total remuneration for 2022 would climb to $20,563 when the 2.5 per cent increase is factored in.

It’s not entirely clear whether the salary increase would result in a tax increase in future years, but the report notes that the 2022 increase could be funded through contingency.

The suggested increase is based on a review of council remuneration in other similar-sized municipalities such as Colwood, Esquimalt, North Saanich, Sidney, Central Saanich and View Royal and follows guidelines laid out in the UBCM Council & Board Remuneration Guide, according to the report.

“When current remuneration was reviewed against these comparables it was determined that a one-time increase to base remuneration could be considered to bring council remuneration within the 75th percentile of elected officials’ wages for comparable municipalities,” the report reads.

Of the six similar-sized municipalities in the Capital Regional District — Colwood, Esquimalt, North Saanich, Sidney, Central Saanich and View Royal — all of them pay their mayor and councillors more money than Sooke does, according to the report.

View Royal, which has a population and a smaller geographical area than Sooke, pays its mayor $32,885 a year while councillors get $17,766 annually.

Esquimalt, which has the second-largest population among the six, pays its mayor a staggering $62,025 and its councillors $24,810, the highest of the six municipalities.

Another justification for the increase, the report notes, is because Sooke is “one of the fastest-growing municipalities” in all of B.C. Sooke’s population, based on 2021 data from the B.C. government, is listed in the report as 15,086.

Sooke council has been mulling the idea of a pay raise for some time. In 2020, councillors approved a motion permitting district staff to conduct an analysis and bring forward suggestions on salary increases for mayor and council.

Should council approve one of the two options on Monday night, they will likely vote on an amended remuneration bylaw at their May 9 meeting.

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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