Courtenay council has approved a recommendation from the CAO to increase the mayor’s pay to $83,000 and councillors’ remuneration to $33,200. The increases will take effect after the next council is elected.
Since 2022 is an election year, the city hired a consultant to complete a market review that considered 13 B.C. municipal governments of comparable size, including Campbell River, to determine a market median. The review determined the median annual mayoral salary to be $83,000. At present, Courtenay’s mayor earns $72,300 a year. A market adjustment of $10,700 was identified for consideration.
Councillors make $25,332, which was also determined to fall below the median. The review supports adding $5,168 and an additional $2,700 to align with a typical ratio of 40 per cent of the mayor’s rate.
“I’m stuck on this one,” Coun. Doug Hillian said at the April 25 meeting. “This is always a difficult issue to resolve. In part, council’s tried to resolve it by not voting on their own current remuneration but setting the stage for the following term, so that if there are increases the electorate has the ability to pronounce on that through the election process.”
However, he said the process is “still fraught with challenges” as council considers significant percentage increases at a time when inflation is creating pressure in relation to wages. Hillian is concerned about the optics of approving a pay bump that is larger than what’s being achieved at bargaining tables.
“I think a modest increase could be something that could be considered, but I don’t see us in need of a significant increase,” Coun. Manno Theos said, noting the concept of what council does on a community level is similar to volunteering.
Wendy Morin said that city councillors are not volunteers but are expected to work.
“Until you’re in the position, you don’t really know what the workload will be,” said Morin, who favours better remuneration and accommodations such as child care to attract a greater diversity of council candidates.
Other members noted the lack of a remuneration increase for eight years.
Melanie McCollum figures the average weekly time invested by each member is easily 20 hours, closer to 30 for some, which takes away from day jobs.
David Frisch agreed that sitting on council is a drain on resources for a person’s job and their family.
“We will definitely be cutting people out if we don’t give a reasonable amount,” he said.
Theos was the only member to oppose the recommended increase.
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