Coun. Ben Isitt (File contributed/ City of Victoria)

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt calls for limitation of council duties in response to survey results

The survey asked residents if they would be in support of a 55 per cent salary increase

Coun. Ben Isitt believes there should be some serious reconsideration of council duties following feedback on a proposed salary increase.

A question put forward by Isitt in November as part of the 2020 Draft Budget survey asked the public if it would be in favour of a 55 per cent pay hike for councillors, who haven’t seen a remuneration increase since 2009. The jump would see councillors going from $43,000 to $70,100, a proposition Isitt said would equate councillors to the median income of a full-time city worker, besides firefighters and police officers.

READ MORE: Victoria councillors ask taxpayers for opinions on 55 per cent wage increase

More than 5,000 people responded with 86 per cent saying they “strongly disagreed” with the idea.

“I welcome receiving this feedback from the public. Public opinion region-wide appears to support limiting Victoria city councillors to part-time remuneration and duties, based on the results of this unscientific questionnaire of self-selected residents,” Isitt said in an emailed statement.

“One way to achieve this outcome, if the informal questionnaire reflects public opinion of City of Victoria elects, is to shift to the model in Saanich of evening meetings rather than daytime meetings so that councillors can engage in regular employment.”

ALSO READ: Victoria residents overwhelmingly opposed to councillor pay raise

Isitt calculated hours and estimated that most councillors spend between 40-85 hours per week working on council-related duties bringing the 2019 total to 550 hours per councillors so far. He compares this to the approximately 140 hours worked by Saanich councillors, despite it being a larger municipality.

Paring down council duties, he argued, could bring councillors back to a part-time roll.

“Public access to councillors could also be reviewed, shifting to a lower level of responsiveness to correspondence, meeting requests, telephone calls and media inquiries,” he said.

ALSO READ: Municipal watchdog calls Victoria councillors’ request for salary increase ‘boneheaded’

In a motion coming to council on Thursday, Isitt suggests that the city further analyze the situation and choose one of three options.

The first would leave things as is at a rate of $24 per hour for 35 hours, and accepting that this is “inaccessible to early-to-mid-career professionals” without other sources of income.

The second would keep the current remuneration and reduce duties by switching to evening meetings, reducing council oversight of municipal expenditures, reducing public responsiveness, and and “reducing proactive work by councillors with community stakeholders to address social, environmental and governance issues.”

The last idea is to adjust the salary to meet the current duties and determining an appropriate salary adjustment through a citizen’s task force, external review or a referendum.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was happy to hear the feedback, and that she believes a third-party review would be a logical option .

“I think a salary review is overdue as 10 years without reviewing job descriptions and compensations is not good governance,” Helps said. “But I think this work should be done independently and in an orderly way as laid out in our strategic plan.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

city councilCity of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

Saanich bylaw sparks EV charging infrastructure requirements in new builds

All new developments to be EV-charger compatible starting Sept. 1

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Summer program helps Greater Victoria teens sharpen writing skills

Registration for the program runs until Aug. 17

Langford cuts red tape, engages in random acts of kindness to uplift spirits

‘I Am Langford’ campaign promotes supporting local

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read