North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure.

North Cowichan council members look to increase their salaries

Final decision expected on Sept. 5

North Cowichan’s council members could see pay raises after the municipal elections in October.

Council decided at its meeting on Aug. 15 to give the first three readings to a bylaw that would see the mayor’s remuneration jump from $62,450 per year to $77,854, while councillors’ pay and benefits would go from $22,800 to $28,025.

It is anticipated the bylaw will be back on the Sept. 5 council agenda for council to consider adoption.

The proposed pay increase comes before Jan. 1, 2019, when elected members in Canada’s municipalities will be required to pay taxes for the first time on the approximately 30 per cent of their salaries that had been tax-exempt.

That tax break was intended to cover some of the many expenses related to a municipal councillor’s work, including some travel costs to attend meetings and office supplies.

Many municipalities across Canada are raising the pay of elected politicians as a result.

A staff report states the pay increase for North Cowichan’s council members will also bring council remuneration in line with the average compensation provided in comparable municipalities, which includes Port Moody, Mission and Vernon.

Mayor Jon Lefebure said he believes the proposed pay increase is reasonable compensation for the work council members do.

He said it’s important for people to understand that the pay raise would not be like a direct salary increase as it takes into account the federal government’s tax claw back on the salaries of council members.

“As well, some of the increase is related to the salary review of councils in other similar-sized municipalities, and, if the bylaw passes, it would put our salaries right in the middle of those municipalities,” Lefebure said.

“Overall, the pay increase would not be a large amount in the grand scheme of things. Council members are expected to do more every year and under more public scrutiny. It’s certainly a more difficult job than when I first started.”

The staff report said keeping council members’ remuneration status-quo is not recommended because it would leave council out of alignment with the market and would have a significant impact on future adjustments to pay.