June 12, 2013 - 6:46 AM
KAMLOOPS - Councillors agreed to give themselves a $1,000 pay raise Tuesday afternoon after 90 minutes of discussions and votes on six separate motions to finally get any to pass.
In May, council was split on the decision to get staff to prepare a report on salaries of councils for similar-sized cities across the province. Councillors Nancy Bepple, Nelly Dever, Tina Lange, Arjun Singh and Donovan Cavers agreed to the review while Mayor Peter Milobar and councillors Pat Wallace, Ken Christian and Marg Spina voted against it. Staff presented the report to council this week.
Bepple brought the original motion forward asking for the report but was adamant she wasn't requesting a pay raise. But with the report still warm in council's hands, she asked her peers to increase the salary for the mayor from to $95,000 from $75,000 and to keep council pay at one-third of the mayor's salary, which would see an increase to just over $31,000 from around $25,000, to be adopted for the next council term in 2015. The motion also outlined a new pay structure for deputy mayor duties, benefits for councillors and putting a policy in place to review salaries every three years.
Worried the city could be ridiculed over how low council is paid—Kamloops councillors earned half the average of the 13 cities surveyed and roughly $7,000 behind the next lowest city—Cavers pushed to have the pay increase enacted for the 2014 budget, a year earlier than in the proposal by Bepple.
“Past councils had no backbone. If we just put it off again, if we kick the can down the road it will make the change more uncomfortable. It has to happen,” Cavers said.
After being defeated, Cavers tried to get council to consider an increase to $80,000 for the mayor and $32,000 for council. Again defeated, council went back to the original proposed by Bepple and tensions rose as each councillor presented their reason for being for or against a pay raise.
Singh said Bepple had the courage to bring forward the motion where other councils and councillors have ignored the issue. Coun. Tina Lange said Mayor Peter Milobar being comfortable with his pay means little because it is the position—not the person in the position—that needs to be considered when making a decision about salaries.
Bepple reiterated that council pay has been below budget by $80,000 each of the last five years making her proposed $110,000 overall increase about $40,000 in real money to the budget bottom line.
Only councillors Lange, Bepple and Cavers voted for it, then councillors turned down two more attempts by Singh and Coun. Nelly Dever to hand the issue to a committee as well as an attempt to table the motion until the next meeting.
Cavers then gave on more try, asking council to look at an interim increase to 35 per cent of the mayor's salary and put together a committee to look at future increases. With little discussion, the vote returned with the same count as the original motion for a report from staff: Cavers, Singh, Lange, Dever and Bepple agreed while Milobar, Wallace, Christian and Spina voted against.
Councillors will now see a raise of just over $1,000 until a new policy for salary review can be put in place under the guidance of a task force committee.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013