Councillors give successors a massive pay hike
The next group of city councillors in Prince George will get a pay hike of close to 30 per cent over the current council.
At Monday night's meeting, the current council approved a new remuneration schedule, to come into effect after this November's municipal elections. The largest factor will see a councillor's remuneration go from $23,342 to $30,219.
The new figure is one-third the amount paid to the mayor. The proposal for the new rates for council, as well as leaving the mayor's rate unchanged, came from a four-person committee formed by council in March. Speaking to council Monday, committee member Dave Yarmish said the committee had looked at a number of factors in reaching its conclusions.
"This is a fair-wage policy for council, we feel. I also think it can have an effect on people who are thinking about running for council in the future."
The committee compared remuneration, both as a basic figure and in terms of benefits, with a number of larger municipalities across the province. The committee used the sixth through 14th largest municipalities in its work, ranging from Coquitlam to Victoria. Prince George is 17th in the province in population.
The committee found that while the mayor's remuneration was in line with that received by mayors in the other communities, that of councillors as well below the average.
Coun. Brian Skakun, while agreeing with the need for an increase in remuneration for councillors, could not support the proposal because of the method of delivery.
"It's asking for a lot at one time. I think it should be an incremental increase. It's going to be tough for a lot of people to swallow this big a jump."
Yarmish said the committee did look at how the increase should be handled.
"It has to be done, it needs to be done. You have to have the courage to do it."
In response to a question from Coun. Cameron Stolz, Yarmish said the committee had also looked at merit-based systems, with council remuneration determined in part by how much time they spent on committees and other functions.
"We looked, and we could not find a community in Canada with a system that would work.
"We decided council members are elected, and it's up to you to determine how best to serve in that role."
Mayor Dan Rogers, who felt his comments would be seen as less biased because the decisions of the committee impacted councillors more than the mayor, said the increases were needed.
"It's not just what's fair, but it's what you give up in your own lives to serve on council. Your family, your outside job, your free time. It's a fair process, and I also think it's right to remind people the decision will not impact us. It's will start with the next council."
The committee also proposed that a similar committee be appointed to review remuneration near the end of each future council's term.
Council approved the committee recommendations, with Skakun opposed.