File photo of CVRD office.

File photo of CVRD office.

Comox Valley Regional District directors approve remuneration bump

Remuneration for members of the Comox Valley Regional District board will increase next year, based on historic Consumer Price Index increases.

The board chair made $29,319 in 2021 while this year’s rate is $30,280. The recommended rate for 2023 is $36,000, with a $1,000 yearly increase until 2026. The recommended rate for an electoral area director is $38,000 in 2023, with a $1,000 yearly increase until 2026. For municipal directors, suggested remuneration is $15,000 for 2023, $16,000 for 2024, $16,500 for 2025 and $17,000 for 2026.

District staff also recommend payments of $7,500 a year to the vice-chair.

In April, the board had requested analysis and consideration of certain elements in the bylaw that might attract a broader range of individuals to run for office. For example, costs associated with family responsibilities and long-term financial priorities might prevent some people from considering a role as an elected official. Additional analysis considered enabling benefits beyond 70 years of age, family care/daycare costs ($6,000), parental/compassionate leave ($15,000), a retirement savings plan allowance ($14,000), and transit and recreation benefits. A transit pass would cost about $6,600 a year.

For the benefits, premiums would continue to be cost-shared 50/50 between the CVRD and directors. A 2018 estimate determined the cost to the CVRD for extending coverage beyond age 70 was about $20,000 per year. Individual directors would also realize an increased yearly expense of $300.

Area C director Edwin Grieve questioned the extended health plan because only he and Courtenay director Doug Hillian are older than 70. A 50/50 split means directors have to pay $20,000 out of pocket, which Grieve finds unacceptable. He noted that directors in the Strathcona Regional District earn nearly $50,000 a year, which he thinks is “exorbitant,” and they receive extended medical because they are on a different plan.

“Look at the rate of inflation folks,” Grieve said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I would argue for extended health, because I don’t think it’s going to come anywhere near $20,000.”

That said, Grieve was willing to abide by the wishes of the board.

With the exception of Comox director Ken Grant, the board approved the recommended increases, with the addition of extended health, family care, parental/compassionate leave and transit benefits.

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