Colwood council has approved a pay increase which would see councillors and mayor pay nearly double next year.
Following a committee of the whole recommendation to approve the salary increase as suggested by an independent citizen committee established to assess council compensation, council voted 5-2 on Aug. 29 to adopt the proposed bylaw’s first, second, and third readings.
Upon implementing the pay adjustments as of Jan. 1 – several months after October’s municipal elections – the mayor would receive $61,054.42 per year, an increase from $32,992.14, and tied to a pay rate of $3.22 per resident. A councillor’s salary would increase to $30,527.21, up from $16,496.07.
The pay rate would be reviewed annually and adjusted for population changes and the Greater Victoria consumer price index.
Doug Kobayashi and Cynthia Day were the only council members to vote against the pay increase, mirroring their votes from the previous committee of the whole meeting. However, there was a new attempt to make the changes more agreeable to those who had voiced concerns about the increase being too significant.
Coun. Stewart Parkinson moved to cut the proposed pay increase by 30 per cent to reflect better his belief running for and serving on council should be seen more as a public service than a job. Day and Kobayashi voted in favour of the proposal. Still, it was defeated by a 4-3 margin, forcing council to adopt the original bylaw as suggested by the committee of the whole.
According to a staff report, the four-person independent committee reviewed council remuneration since incorporation, compared Colwood’s 2021 remuneration to those of other local municipalities and cities of similar size elsewhere in the province, as well as other documents, including the Union of B.C.’s Municipalities’ Council and Board Remuneration Guide.
By raising council pay in line with the city’s population, the committee agreed to bring Colwood’s remuneration on par with other municipalities.
In explaining why he could not support the bylaw proposal, Kobayashi said the committee was not following all of the recommendations in the UBCM remuneration guide, resulting in a recommended pay increase that was too high.
Day stated that she could not support the increase because it was too substantial and because tying future increases to the city’s population would make it more difficult for council to fairly and transparently represent its constituents.
Mayor Rob Martin, councillors Dean Jantzen, Gordie Logan and Michael Baxter believed the increase was necessary to help encourage a more diverse cross-section of the community to run for municipal office, mainly young and more financially precarious residents, and it should not be council’s place to make significant changes to the recommendation made by an independent committee.
The bylaw faces a final vote at a future meeting for formal adoption.