North Cowichan council votes itself a pay raise

Pay increase will kick in after next month’s muncipal elections

Council members in North Cowichan who will be elected in the upcoming municipal elections will get a pay raise.

Council voted 6-1, with Councillor Joyce Behnsen opposed, in its meeting on Sept. 5 on a motion that will see the mayor’s salary jump from $62,450 per year to $77,854, while councillors’ pay and benefits will go from $22,800 to $28,025.

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 their elected politicians as a result.

Behnsen had raised a number of objections to the plans for a pay increase for council members since the issue first arose.

She said at Wednesday’s council meeting that council positions are not normally considered full-time jobs.

“We’re here to serve the community, so maybe any pay increases we receive should be performance based,” Behnsen said.

“It’s been determined that that extra amount each council member will have to pay in taxes because of the change in federal policy would be about $2,000, so why are we looking at such a generous pay increase here?”

Coun. Al Siebring pointed out that the pay increase for council members is also based on a staff report that compared North Cowichan’s salaries and benefits with other similar municipalities.

He said that, as well as compensating for the tax changes, the pay increase will bring council remuneration in line with the average compensation provided in those municipalities.

“If we don’t do this now, we’ll spend years playing catch up,” he said.

Coun. Kate Marsh said she supports the pay raise as it could lead more young people to put their names forward and run for council.

“I don’t think future councils should have less pay than this one,” she said. “But it’s sad that we have to set our own salaries.”

Coun. Rob Douglas clarified it would be preferable to have the province set council salary levels, perhaps based on population, rather than the awkward situation where council does it themselves.

“Maybe we should send a letter to the province raising our concerns,” he said.

Coun. Maeve Maguire said being a council member is a major sacrifice for those who step forward and take on the responsibility.

“It’s important that the pay meets the expectations of a full-time job,” she said.

A staff report on the issue said that 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.

“The task force (which developed the comparable study of the municipalities) noted that without properly compensating council, it can prevent highly skilled individuals from running for public office,” the report stated.

Just Posted

Sculpture relocation plan works perfectly in Chemainus

Heavy lifting required to place Cline’s work into Heritage Square

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island teen was discovered

Brewers go down swinging in baseball semifinal playoff

Chemainus junior men’s squad falls just short of a second straight trip to the finals

Lack of consultation on Chemainus Road corridor project irks business owners, residents

Surprise expressed over change to anticipated North Cowichan plans

Fuller Lake Beach remains closed

High bacteria count prevents people from being in the water during warm summer days

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read