'Courageous' Kelowna councillors are getting their raises | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Courageous' Kelowna councillors are getting their raises

Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas.

Despite two weeks of debate and taxpayer outrage, Kelowna city councillors opted to move forward with giving themselves a 35% pay increase.

The final vote count will have to wait for one more meeting, but councillors agreed today, April 8, to take themselves from the lowest, or among the lowest paid councils compared to other cities of its size, to the 60th percentile.

Mayor Tom Dyas praised council’s “courage” for having the debate and for passing the raises.

“There's no reason… why the council should be sitting as the lowest paying individuals throughout all of those cities (in a recent study comparing salaries) and why the mayor should be sitting as the second lowest,” he said. “The only reason why that is, is because it takes courage to basically have this discussion.”

A city policy of using the inflation rate to top up salaries every year will be gone if councillors vote yes at the next council meeting. Instead wages will be reviewed every two years based on the same comparison of similar-sized cities.

READ MORE: Kelowna city council gives itself a 35% pay hike

With the change, councillors will always receive 40% of the mayor’s salary, which is $134,848, but will rise to $145,200 Jan. 1, 2025. That puts councillor part-time salaries at $50,535 until Jan. 1 2025 when it rises to $58,080.

The policy also means Kelowna councillors will depend on other cities in the comparison for their next raise. If any other B.C. city in the comparison raises their salaries, Kelowna will eventually follow.

Also included in the policy change is an opt-out clause for councillors who either voted against or supported the change for the sake of future councillors but were uncomfortable taking the raise themselves. None of the councillor said publicly if they would use the opt-out clause.

Councillors Gord Lovegrove, Mohini Singh, Rick Webber and Ron Cannan opposed the raises. Cannan sought to defer the decision to create an independent committee to recommend salary bumps but was defeated.

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge, who was absent from the previous meeting, said he voted in favour in hopes of attracting a more diverse council, using the word courage again. The word was used nine times by mayor and councillors in the discussion.

“I really see this as a move for equity and accessibility in this space. And unfortunately it hasn't been done in the past, and so now we're coming in last, in a corporation that's doing over a billion dollars a year of investment. And I can't think of a private corporation that would pay $600,000 a year to their board of directors to oversee a billion dollars in revenues. Yet, that's what we're doing here,” he said.

"So courageous leadership is having this type of stuff in a public setting to realize that the demands on what we're dealing with now are very different than 30 years ago. We're dealing with extremely complex social files. We're dealing with extremely complex development files. And to do this job properly, you can't be working at a full-time job to supplement it. I tried to do it. I had to sell my business to do this full-time.

"And the majority of us are people of privilege. When we look around the room, there's not a lot of diversity. And if we're to bring more people in, attract more people to these seats, whether they're young people or people with more underrepresented voices, we have to set them up for success.“

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