Did you hike your own salary by 37 per cent this year? How about 70 per cent?
Central Saanich council did just that on Feb. 21 with a motion to increase the mayor’s salary by 37 per cent and councillors’ salaries by 70 per cent. It passed 4-2 at committee-of-the-whole with Couns. Zeb King and Gord Newton opposing the motion.
It’s expected a remuneration bylaw will come before council in late March. If approved the mayor’s pay will jump to about $66,700 and councillors to $30,800, and then will be adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Victoria during the subsequent three years.
Municipal watchdog Grumpy Taxpayer$ is questioning whether huge wage increases are affordable for taxpayers and defensible during tough economic times. Councils shouldn’t be increasing their own wages. This pay increase should have been brought up and defended by the last council to take effect with a new council.
A staff report looked at 16 comparators with populations between 14,000-28,000. Council pay is set at the median and it uses some service parameters, such as budget, police and recreation.
There are no comparables that bear any relationship to council’s wages. Central Saanich council has to make a decision and defend any pay increase to its ratepayers, not to the voters of Sidney nor Victoria.
Central Saanich has a budget of $27.2 million and a population of about 18,689. In difficult inflationary times with great economic uncertainty, this council remuneration hike motion sends an unhelpful message to citizens.
Stan Bartlett, vice-chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria