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Cumberland council supports salary increase to meet average

Motion includes setting up independent committee in election years to review pay
Cumberland’s council is supporting a pay increase following this year’s local government elections. Record file photo

Cumberland’s council is looking at a pay increase for 2023.

The issue of remuneration was on the agenda for the Jan. 10 meeting, providing council a chance to consider the matter during the last year of its term.

Following discussion, council members supported an increase to $14,596, plus the annual B.C. Consumer Price Index increase for 2021 and 2022. The move is to bring them into line with the average for communities of roughly the same size. At the same time, they want to raise the amount of pay for the mayor to 40 per cent more than that of a council member. These changes would take effect for 2023.

The existing rates for the mayor are $22,287 for 2021 and $11,565 for council members, as well as a four per cent increase set for this year, meaning pay of $23,179 and $12,028, respectively. The review at this point is only considering remuneration and not other benefits. Council last reviewed the amounts in 2018 and 2019.

“I just don’t want to see it falling back again,” Mayor Leslie Baird said. “I want it up and comparable to the other communities.”

As well as various pay options, staff provided council with comparisons of what similarly-sized municipal governments pay elected officials, as well as those in this region.

“What has been put before council is a number of considerations,” chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said.

One table compares Cumberland’s remuneration to B.C. communities of roughly 2,000 to 5,000 people, with the average pay for mayor being $25,584 and $14,596 for councillors, or about 57 per cent of what the mayor earns. Among the communities included are Port Hardy, Duncan, Tofino, Lake Cowichan and Lantzville.

Within the region, Courtenay’s mayor makes $75,090 and councillors make $26,309; Comox’s mayor, $43,263, and councillors, $24,786; Campbell River’s mayor, $78,955, and councillors, $30,004; Parksville’s mayor, $53,550, and councillors, $31,110; and Qualicum Beach’s mayor $46,966, and councillors, $35,225.

In the fall, Comox voted to raise its remuneration.

RELATED STORY: Comox council salaries set to increase following 2022 municipal election

With this being an election year, the rationale for the timing is to have council set a raise for the next council, a practice that other municipal governments use.

“This is the last year of the term, so this is the year to do this,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.

As part of the motion, council agreed to the idea of forming an independent committee comprising residents who will review remuneration each election year and propose changes to take effect in January following the election.

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