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‘I’m proposing to lead by example’: Kelowna Coun. Cannan opts out of wage increase

Councillors have until May 14 to state in writing if they will opt out of the wage increase

Kelowna city councillor Ron Cannan has opted out of the controversial wage increase approved by council a few weeks ago.

He made the revelation at council’s May 13 meeting during a staff report recommending the appropriation of a nearly $11 million general fund surplus.

Cannan said he would like to see some of that surplus banked in a stabilization fund, noting the city’s financial plan includes an approximately 10 per cent tax increase over the next two years.

“So that our tax increases are lower for the next couple of years, closer to the cost of living. I think it would be a good idea to look at sending some of that money back into the pockets of taxpayers,” he said.

Cannan added he was prepared to lead by example.

“I’ve sent an email to the city clerk and the city manager that I’m opting out of the 35 per cent wage increase, especially since we had a 4.19 per cent increase already this year.”

The wage increase issue caused division and confusion among councillors as some didn’t immediately realize they had voted for the pay hike when they intended to vote against it. They were also given the option to take the increase or not.

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Mayor Tom Dyas asked staff to comment on Cannan’s suggestion of a stabilization fund.

“We’re always working hard to make sure that we have predictable and stable tax rates regardless of what’s coming at us,” said Joe Sass, director of financial services.

Sass noted the inflation that the city has experienced has been higher than the tax rate increase since COVID.

Councillors Mohini Singh, Rick Webber, and Gord Lovegrove had concerns about the amount of the increase and the opt out clause.

Singh and Webber said they would be taking the pay hike. Lovegrove was not present at Monday’s meeting.

Council will be getting their new salaries in steps, with the mayor receiving $135,848 and councillors getting $50,535. Effective January 1, 2025, the mayor will receive $145,200 and councillors $58,080.

Councillors have until May 14 to state in writing if they will opt out of the wage increase.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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