Waters: Squawking has already started about council paycheques

It’s a no-win situation. But it has to be done.

It’s a no-win situation. But it has to be done.

Somebody has to figure out how much we pay our local politicians.

But, given that the city foots the bill for the mayor and her councillors—and the municipal buck stops with them—the council of today has to be the one to sign off for what the council of tomorrow will be paid.

So once again, as is the case every three years, the squawking has started over potential pay hikes for the folks who will sit on council following November’s municipal election.

But if there is a better way to review council pay levels than the one used here, I’d like to hear it.

Short of simply tying the mayor and councilors’ pay to the B.C. cost of living index— which now happens in non-election years—it’s hard to see a more arm’s length way of doing it than the system Kelowna uses.

Unlike other municipalities, Kelowna leaves its tri-annual pay ponderings to a committee of three qualified community volunteers. The volunteers look at what other mayors and councillors are paid elsewhere, compare the workloads here and there, ask questions, gather information and make recommendations. Sometimes they say the mayor’s job should pay more, other times it’s a hike for councillors. I can’t remember the pay level ever being cut.

It’s true council appoints the committee members and it approves the recommendation. But each year, the approval is simply a rubber stamp.

The key here however—in addition to the use of an outside committee—is that the recommendations don’t kick in until after the next municipal election.

The message to incumbents is clear—if you get back in, you win. For newcomers, remuneration levels are known in advance.

As for what the city pays its mayor and councillors—$87,902 and $30,765 respectively, with one-third of those amounts tax-free—well, that’s a different debate. Some think it’s too high, some think it’s too low and others think it’s just right.

But no matter the level, even the most lax council member earns his or her money over the course of a year. The hours they put in, the research they do, their access to the public and the responsibility they handle easily translate their respective paycheques into pretty low per-hour rates.

This year, given the recent economic turmoil, a pay hike for council members may or may not be in the cards.

But if it is, and if re-elected, incumbents and newcomers alike really want to make a statement, they could always just follow West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater. When he was awarded a pay hike last year, he gave it back.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.

awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Just Posted

Okanagan Wildfires: An afternoon update on wildfires and evacuations

A Sunday afternoon look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

VIDEO: Sailing under the sun at the BC Games

Maple Bay in the Cowichan Valley was host to dozens of athletes sailing on small prams to planing dinghys

BC Wildfire holding steady on Okanagan Complex

Evening update on Okanagan fire situation

Wild fires blaze in the Okanagan, in your words

We have compiled a community photo album of your wildfire photos

Power couple speed into top spot at L’Alpe de Grand Blanc at Big White

The professional riders have been training all year

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Reel Reviews: Floundering inferno

We quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

UPDATE: Five taken to hospital following one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Ottawa fails to find alternative buyer for Trans Mountain pipeline by deadline

The feds had announced it was purchasing the $4.5 billion pipeline earlier this spring

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Most Read