Sooke council members voted themselves a five per cent raise on Wednesday.
The mayor’s remuneration has been increased to $31,500 from the previous rate of $30,000. The six councillors’ salaries have increased to $15,750, representing a $750 hike from the old salary level.
The raises take effect Jan. 1.
This is the second year in a row council has voted itself a raise. Last year, it approved a nearly 50 per cent wage increase after a decade of frozen wages.
“It [the pay raise] wasn’t touched for over a decade because people would say things like, ‘You do it for the love of your community,’” said Coun. Megan McMath. “It’s just not reasonable, especially now. If you want a good spectrum of the community, this job can’t be financially ostracizing and it is.”
Coun. Al Beddows pushed for the five per cent wage boost.
“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we put into this job, and it’s been growing a lot since the pandemic,” said Beddows. “Sometimes I’m left to spend a Sunday preparing for a council meeting the next day.”
Council directed staff to come up with a formula that will determine future mayor and council pay increases. Beddows pointed out Ladysmith has a set wage hike formula until 2022.
Council will direct staff to review Ladysmith’s approach, including other similar-sized communities, and report back to council next year.
The 2021 wage hike isn’t sitting well with the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria.
“This idea is completely outrageous and tone-deaf,” said John Treleaven, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayer$.
“If [council] hadn’t just raised their salaries last year, I would’ve understood, but we’re in a zero-inflation environment right now. It would appear that Sooke’s council just doesn’t get it. They should be embarrassed.”
Treleaven added that it isn’t unusual for municipal governments to ask for outside advisors for pay wage increases, but he thinks “now is not the time.”
Sooke has about 14,000 residents and a $29.7 million budget this year.
– with files from Kevin Laird
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