(File Photo)

(File Photo)

Kelowna council debates merits of remuneration study

Third-party consultant turfed in favour of current UBCM survey

Quite a bit of debate at Monday’s (Mar. 14) city council meeting regarding whether a third-party consultant should be hired to review how much the mayor and council are paid.

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge put forth a motion to that effect as council was discussing a staff report suggesting extended health benefits be available to councillors with all or part of the cost covered by the city.

“I think it’d be advantageous as we move forward as a city, and I think our population size warrants that now, to do a review across Canada to see how the mayor’s office is compensated as well as councillors,” said Wooldridge.

Councillor Luke Stack argued that might prove difficult depending on a particular council, how many times they meet and what other duties they may have.

“I like the Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment because it’s something people understand,” said Stack. “If CPI is 1.75 per cent, that’s what the adjustment is. I just don’t know if it’ll benefit us that much to compare across the country. So don’t think I will support this.”

Councillor Mohini Singh was in agreement.

“Different municipalities have different responsibilities, different dynamics,” said Singh. “As compared to another municipality our size, they may not have the responsibilities we have and we may not have the responsibilities they have.”

Councillor Wooldridge pointed out that one of the key values in a staff report on council remuneration was reducing barriers in participating (in municipal politics).

“When we talk about reducing barriers we have to acknowledge that most of us come from relative privilege and folks that don’t have flexible employers, or are entrepreneurs, or are retired, or can’t step away from their jobs, can’t participate in this process.”

In supporting Wooldridge’s motion, Councillor Ryan Donn said he did not see any concern with getting information through a third-party consultant.

“It gives a perspective and notices as needed,” said Donn. “It is set up for the more comfortable in our community to run. It’s not set up for part-time folks to add a second part-time job with the least flexible schedule.”

Mayor Colin Basran was also not in favour of hiring a consultant.

“Certainly Councillor Wooldridge’s comments about inclusion are well taken, and I appreciate where that motion is coming from and I support the spirit of it,” said Basran. “But I think paying a consultant to do a third-party review isn’t necessarily something I’m in favour of. I think that is potentially something that staff could just quickly do with information from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and elsewhere.”

City Clerk Stephen Flemming pointed out that UBCM and Civic Info B.C. are currently canvassing local municipalities on council remuneration and benefits and the City of Kelowna has submitted its information to that survey.

Council voted to receive information from that survey, when it becomes available, instead of hiring a third-party consultant. For 2022 the mayor’s salary is $113,690.61 and $38,638.69 for councillors.

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@GaryBarnes109
gary.barnes@kelownacapnews.com

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City CouncilCity of Kelowna