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UPDATE: What is council worth?

October 18, 2013 - 10:30 AM

TASK FORCE WANTS $10,000 RAISE FOR EACH COUNCIL MEMBER

KAMLOOPS – Councillors will find out exactly what the residents of Kamloops think they are worth next week as the committee tasked with making salary and benefit recommendations will present their findings to council.

Council Remuneration Task Force Chair Brant Hasanen was unable to discuss the findings until they had been presented to council but seemed pleased with the amount of feedback the group got. The group of seven volunteers took to the streets on four different days in August and also accepted feedback online.

Several short questions were asked, though the task force was open to any comments beyond the survey questions as well. The survey included questions such as whether pay should be reviewed every three years, whether pay should be based on the average of other similar sized cities, should councillors receive benefits and how should annual compensation be set going forward?

The task force looking at what council is paid believes the mayor should be paid 90 per cent of the average 14 similar-sized cities and councillors should receive 40 per cent of what the mayor is paid, according to the report.

Councillors should also be given the option to opt in to a benefits plan, if they pay 50 per cent of the individual premiums and 100 per cent of premiums for additional family members. If all eight councillors were to opt in it would cost the city an additional $10,000 per year.

These adjustments would still leave the mayor as the lowest paid of the comparison cities and councillors would move up to the middle of the pack.

The issue was brought up by Coun. Nancy Bepple in April when she asked the rest of council to consider having a look at what they are paid compared to other cities.

“Is the pay fair for what we have to do?” she asked, noting Kamloops city councillors are paid less than minimum wage.

Council ultimately agreed with Bepple and after the report showed that at just under $25,000 they were the lowest paid council among 13 cities they grappled with the decision over how to rectify the issue, ultimately getting a majority vote for a $1,000 increase and a committee to look at future raises.

For the last dozen years councillors have relied on a living wage increase to get any sort of bump in pay and Bepple said things had changed over the years, including the amount of time elected officials are expected to put into the job, especially with a council mandate for more public engagement.

The task force is also recommending that beginning in 2016 annual increases will use the Consumer Price Index as a guideline and will be determined by where Kamloops council falls within the averages.

If council agrees to the recommendations each member of council would see about a $10,000 increase in remuneration though acting mayor duties would no longer receive additional pay, nor would a communication allowance be given.

Changes to the remuneration structure would take effect following the next municipal election next fall. The task force is also recommending that beginning in 2016 annual increases will use the Consumer Price Index as a guideline and will be determined by where Kamloops council falls within the averages.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

This story was updated 4:02 p.m. Oct. 18, 2013 to include details from the report.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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