Three per cent seems to be the magic number for West Kelowna council this year.
In January, council stated that three per cent would likely be the targeted 2012 tax increase for its residents.
On Tuesday, council decided that three per cent would also be an appropriate wage increase for the mayor and councillors in 2012.
The wage hike was a modest one considering council’s policy at the time suggested a 9.71 per cent increase for the mayor and 13.5 per cent for councillors.
That policy was a median formula that based the mayor and councillors’ compensation on the median of what is paid to mayors and councillors in a comparative group of municipalities. That comparative group included: Langley, Port Moody, North Cowichan, Campbell River, Penticton and Vernon.
The reason the policy produced a hefty 2012 salary raise suggestion was because DWK council opted for a zero per cent wage increase in 2011. If council was to follow that policy this year, their wages would have had to catch up with the wages of councils from other municipalities.
Mayor Doug Findlater said that the topic of council wages is a “difficult subject.” He said he didn’t think double-digit salary increases were appropriate.
“In the overall scheme of things, this is another $22,000, which is not a significant impact on the budget, but it’s highly symbolic,” said Findlater.
Councillor Gord Milsom said that there are flaws in the median remuneration policy.
“I don’t believe that council should continue with the current compensation policy. I don’t think it’s working,” said Milsom.
Instead, he suggested that increases in council wages should be based on the B.C. Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the previous year.
Councillor David Knowles took an alternate point of view. He said that he and his colleagues deserved the wages that were derived from the median policy.
“People tell me that the mayor, myself and all of council are doing a good job . . . there were lots of compliments last week at the budget meeting . . . the most telling endorsement was the ultimate poll: Our election,” said Knowles.
“I think we’re getting the backing of our constituents to have a reasonable compensation for the job that we’re doing.”
Councillor Bryden Winsby suggested that a three per cent increase would be reasonable for 2012.
“It covers the cost of living increase and the fact that, for the past couple of years, council has had next to nothing in terms of an increase,” said Winsby.
The majority of council agreed with Winsby’s suggestion by voting 6 to 1 in favour of a three per cent pay raise for 2012—Knowles was opposed.
Council also decided to make council pay increases reflective of the B.C. CPI in 2013 and 2014 and opted to scrap the median policy for determining the mayor and councillors’ salaries.