Council votes on salary increase

Mayor Bev Buckway found herself in an uncomfortable position Monday, voting on how much of a pay raise she should give herself if she were to win another term this fall.

Mayor Bev Buckway found herself in an uncomfortable position Monday, voting on how much of a pay raise she should give herself if she were to win another term this fall.

Currently, the city doesn’t have a formula to calculate salary increases based on inflation.

Monday, council voted in favour of using the Canadian Price Index to determine a reasonable increase for the mayor and councillors.

But what councillors couldn’t decide upon was whether the mayor warrants a 2.13 per cent increase each year, or each three-year term.

The administration services committee recommended council give the mayor a 2.13 per cent increase each year, and councillors every three years.

This discrepancy didn’t sit well with some councillors.

“There seems to be a consensus that annual increases are the most appropriate action, but I totally disagree,” said Councillor Doug Graham.

“The increases (for mayor and councillors) should be the same.”

The mayor’s position is a full-time job and deserves an increase each year, said councillor Dave Stockdale, who, as chair of the committee, put the recommendations forward.

The mayor currently gets paid $72,500 a year. An annual increase would see the mayor receiving $77,000 a year in 2011 whereas a per-term increase would only net the mayor $74,000 in 2011.

Councillors, by comparison, receive $17,500. A per-term increase of 2.13 per cent would give councillors $18,000 versus $19,500 if they had received yearly increases.

Buckway and all councillors, except Graham, voted in favour of the first reading of the bylaw, which proposed to give the mayor yearly increases and councillors per-term increases.

Before voting on the bylaw a second time, Graham asked to amend the document so that councillors and the mayor received equal increases.

“I say this because it keeps the relative spread between council and the mayor the same,” said Graham

“I don’t agree – (the mayor) has a totally different position where they’re on call 24/7,” said Stockdale.

The mayor’s $72,500 salary, 70 per cent of which is tax-free, and her vehicle allowance are sufficient compensation for the work she does, said Graham.

Buckway, who plans to run for office again this fall, sat quietly watching the discussion unfold.

In a surprising reversal, she eventually voted in favour of Graham’s amendment, as did the other councillors, except for Stockdale.

My only concern is that a per-term increase looks to the public like a bigger money grab because there’s a large jump every three years, said Buckway following the council meeting.

“There’s a minority of people out there who say it’s disgraceful that anyone has an increase … but you give up a lot of your life for this job,” she said.

The discussion was somewhat strange to vote on, she said.

“It’s very interesting to publicly debate your own salary. You’re under the public scrutiny of whether (your salary is) worth it,” she said.

The third reading of the bylaw will have to pass at next council meeting before the proposal is officially adopted.

In 2006, the last time council voted on an increase, the mayor’s annual salary increased by 8.5 per cent from $66,800 to $72,500.

Councillors’ salaries went up 31 per cent, from

$13,363 to $17,500 per year.

The dramatic jump was a result of wages not having been adjusted since 1997.

Contact Vivian Belik at