KAMLOOPS - As the lowest paid city in a survey of 13 similar sized communities Kamloops councillors would need a pay increase of more than 50 per cent in order to come in line with the average of the 13 cities.
Kamloops councillors make $24,811 annually while the mayor earns $74,434. In addition councillors receive compensation for acting mayor ($20 per day), for serving on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board (just over $12,000 plus expenses) and a technology allowance ($7 per month.) Councillors do not receive any medical or dental benefits or a vehicle allowance though the mayor does receive benefits (medical, dental and extended health benefits) and the vehicle allowance ($950 per month.)
On May 7 Coun. Nancy Bepple asked council to have staff put together a report to show what council members at other similar sized cities are paid and how their pay is determined. Though Mayor Peter Milobar and councillors Marg Spina, Pat Wallace and Ken Christian disagreed with the motion the other five councillors agreed. That report will be presented to council Tuesday.
Several councillors said they did not realize just how many hours they would be contributing. Milobar said he came into the job knowing what to expect and if council wanted a raise they should just ask for one instead of having staff spend time on a report.
“I ran knowing what I was getting into and what I would be paid,” he said at the council meeting last month, “If you want to discuss it, just discuss it. I have trouble asking staff for a report. I prefer to skip this step all together and let the chips fall where they may.”
Spina and Christian said, based on the recent mill rate increase and the platforms they got elected on to keep costs low, they would not support a pay increase and in turn did not support spending staff hours on creating a report.
“We don't work for the City of Kamloops, we serve the City of Kamloops,” Christian said, “and it's not a matter of whether we deserve it, it's whether we can afford it.”
Coun. Tina Lange said while it is never comfortable to give oneself a raise the city has changed a lot in 12 years and felt the issue was worth looking at. Coun. Nelly Dever agreed, saying the issue is a game of hot potato and it was time to stop pushing it off for someone else to look at.
“It's the Band-Aid no one wants to pull off. Suck it up and just do it, quit passing it off to somebody else,” Dever said in support of the motion, “At the end of the day somebody needs to face this.”
Bepple said prior to the May 7 meeting councillors put in so many hours they are barely paid above minimum wage and with the loss of pay and benefits some councillors face from other jobs that can be tough on a councillor. With more councillors spending more time dealing with their civic responsiblities Bepple estimates she spends between 20-30 hours every week on council obligations and expectations.
Bepple noted it has been 12 years since council received a remuneration review, though council does receive annual pay increases using the consumer price index as a guide; something staff determines every year. The city is one of six in the survey that uses this method for adjustments while others use various methods of averaging out similar sized municipalities to determine a final number.
Only nine of the 13 communities compensate the acting mayor while half the cities offer benefits for councillors. In five other cities benefits are optional. Only three cities consider benefits optional for the mayor, the rest provide some type of coverage. All but three provide either the technology or a technology allowance to all of council though vehicle allowances vary significantly.
Ten of the cities have been reviewed in the past three years or are in the process of being reviewed. With the last staff review taking place in 2003, Kamloops is the city to go the longest without a review of those surveyed. Tuesday the report will officially be presented to council and then they get to make the hard decision whether they want a pay raise or not.
City: population (2011 Census); mayor's annual remuneration (average $97,785); councillors' annual remuneration (average $38,195)
- Port Coquitlam: 56,342; $88,048; $34,000
- Prince George: 71,974; $94,182; $31,394
- Maple Ridge: 76,052; $92,310; $37,285
- Chilliwack: 77,936; $89,110; $31,769
- Victoria: 80,017; $99,715; $39,886
- Nanaimo: 83,810; $87,558; $32, 405
- North Vancouver (District): 84,412; $97,187; $38,874
- Kamloops: 85,678; $74,434; $24,811
- Delta: 99,863; $110,653; $47,654
- Langley (Township): 104,177; $106,312; $42,936
- Saanich: 109,752; $93,654; $36,990
- Kelowna: 117,312; $89,457; $31,310
- Coquitlam: 126,456; $123,696; $38,293
To contact a reporter for this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)819-3723 or message through Twitter @JennStahn.