Victoria council 25% pay increase paused, decision passed to independent task force

Victoria council 25% pay increase paused, decision passed to independent task force
Nicholas Pescod

Victoria council has stepped on the brakes on its decision to give councillors a 25 per cent raise, instead delegating the decision on pay levels to an independent task force.

Coun. Jeremy Caradonna introduced the motion, noting this change of course comes after hearing feedback from the public since the original motion was put forward on March 14.

READ PREVIOUS: Victoria councillors to increase remuneration by 25%

“Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard concerns, I probably had 150 or 200 emails, about the process by which we made the decision following the remuneration report and following the MNP Governance Review,” Caradonna said while introducing the motion Thursday.

“What I heard from the public is that there were concerns about the process and about procedure, and I want to be mindful and sensitive to those concerns, because as a community, I want us to be on the same page about process because we’re not always going to be on the same page about content.”

“So with that, I’m happy to push pause on this process and the consideration of remuneration and to put it in the hands of an independent task force.”

In addition to looking at remuneration, the task force will also look at the amount of time councillors spend on work to determine if it is a full- or part-time role, make recommendations on adjustments benefits, as well as the per diems for committee appointments and conferences, and to determine when those changes should be implemented.

The task force is to be overseen and facilitated by a senior member of city staff, and will be made up of diverse community, non-profit, labour, government and business leaders.

RELATED: Victoria council remains under fire five days after pay raise vote

Coun. Krista Loughton noted no matter how the decision around raising council pay comes about, it is an inherently controversial topic because the decision ultimately rests in the hands of the councillors themselves.

“This has been humiliating. Several people have yelled me over the phone and to my face over this issue. The system is a quagmire to say the least,” Loughton said.

“There needs to be structural change here and it’s not just our council, it’s every municipality throughout the province because of the way that this is decided. And further to that I think that the province should be setting our rates but that will be a conversation for another time.”

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has a guide for councils in the province of best practices to follow when deciding on council remuneration. One of the recommendations is the best practice to conduct the review is to use an independent task force.

Coun. Matt Dell says the council has been trying to take a track of not dragging things out for too long, and in this case may have overshot.

“I just want to take a second to acknowledge, I think we got this one wrong, and that’s OK. I wanted to be able to do things that I acknowledged we got wrong, and and I think that’s OK for all leaders to do,” Dell said.

“Maybe, perhaps part of it was was we’ve been plowing ahead, there’s so much work to do in the city, getting stuck on things means other things aren’t happening and perhaps I fell victim to that a little bit.”

The motion to refer the decision on council remuneration to an independent task force passed unanimously.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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