(File photo)

(File photo)

Kelowna taxpayers could pay for council health benefits

The annual cost is approximately $50,000 if all members of council opt in

The taxpayer could be paying for extended health benefits for the next Kelowna council.

A report coming forward at today’s (Mar. 14) meeting indicates best practices suggest benefits be available to members of council with all or part of the cost covered by the city. This recognizes that members may have limited opportunities to access benefits through other employment.

The annual cost is approximately $50,000 if all members of council opt in.

Staff recommends amending the bylaw to clarify current provisions, and make benefits available to all council members and their dependents, with the cost fully paid for by the city.

Council typically considers reviewing remuneration options in the first quarter of the final year of its term, with any changes coming into effect in the following council term. The last comprehensive review was done by a citizen task force in 2011. Council amended several provisions following that review. In 2019, the mayor’s annual indemnity was $107,525.22 and $36,543.33 for councillors. The indemnity is adjusted annually based on the previous year’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Vancouver. In 2022, the mayor’s indemnity is $113,690.61 and $38,638.69 for councillors.

A review of council remuneration typically includes consideration of pay, expenses, and benefits. Council has several options in determining how such a review should be conducted. The most common are a review by staff, a consultant or a citizen task force, or keeping the current bylaw provisions in place for another council term. As with other sectors, benefits for local elected officials have changed over time and may now include parental leave, childcare, RRSP contributions, and education allowances in addition to health coverage.

The current bylaw currently authorizes the city to enter into agreements for benefits with members of council and their dependents. The optional benefits package currently includes extended health, dental, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance coverage. Councillors pay the premiums for their benefits package, while the city pays 50 per cent of premiums for the mayor, should they choose to make use of this option.

Should council choose to undertake a review of remuneration, any changes would come into effect for the 2022-2026 council term.

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@GaryBarnes109
gary.barnes@kelownacapnews.com

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City CouncilCity of Kelowna