Whoever finds themselves on the winners’ list after the Summerland election on Oct. 20 can look forward to a nice pay increase on Jan. 1, 2019.
District council voted 5 to 1 Monday night to improve a pay increase package that with see the mayor’s pay jump to $36,000 on Jan. 1, 2019, up from $28,843. Councilors will rise to $16,200 from $12,757. With Mayor Peter Waterman absent, the only opposing vote came from Coun. Doug Holmes.
“I am troubled by even discussing this in the middle of an election campaign,” said Holmes, whose motion to defer the decision to the incoming council failed.
Other than cost-of-living increases — averaging 1.5 per cent yearly —Summerland council hasn’t had a pay increase since 2009. The new increases were a recommendation from a task force that studied the issue through August, comparing council remuneration in 21 communities.
“The longer a council waits to do an increase in compensation, to bring yourselves to average, the harder it becomes; the gap becomes bigger and bigger,” said chief administrative officer Lynda Tynan.
In the comparison cities, Powell River, with a population of 13,157, had the highest paid mayor at $48,500, with councillors getting $19,400.
At the other end of the scale, Grand Forks — population 4,049 — had the lowest band mayor at $24,000. Their councillors get $18,000.
The $36,000 figure the committee came up with for mayor is a little less than the average of the 21 cities, and the councillor rate is set at 45 per cent of the mayor’s pay.
The bylaw governing the pay received by Summerland’s councillors and the mayor hasn’t been updated since 2007. That bylaw covered three years, maxing out in 2009 at $26,000 for the mayor and $11,500 for council members.
The process of considering a pay rise actually started last year, when council directed a committee be formed to bring recommendations forward before this fall’s election. That didn’t happen until this August.
“We started out having a lot of discussion on what is the best way to compare municipalities,” said Tynan, explaining they tried to set up a range of factors, not just population to find similar municipalities, pointing out that Summerland has elements like its own electric utility and landfill that set it apart. “We took a very conservative approach.”
That includes not introducing extended health benefits to the council package.
“We, in Summerland, consider the positions of mayor and council to be part-time. It is possible for mayor and councillors to hold full-time jobs,” said Tynan.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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