Salmon Arm council votes for raise

Salmon Arm mayor and council voted Monday to give the next mayor and council a 19 and 44 per cent raise, respectively.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, remuneration for council will be increased from $15,000 to $21,660, and from $44,800 to $53,725 for the mayor (totals exclude expenses). Future annual increases will be tied to the B.C. Consumer Price Index.

Council approved both of these following the presentation of a survey by Maurice Lamb of Lamb and Associates. Lamb was hired by the city to complete a salary and benefit survey for mayor and council.

Summing up his findings, Lamb said he found the mayor’s pay to be $8,925 less than the survey average, while councillors are paid $6,660 less.

“So, my recommendation is that you pay the survey average rates,” said Lamb. “I think it’s very important that municipalities maintain survey average rates, because if you don’t, all of sudden one year you’re faced with a huge catch-up, and also, you want to have rates out there to attract more people to run for political office.”

The survey results provided to council include remuneration rates for other B.C. communities with populations similar in size to Salmon Arm’s. Among them is Cranbrook, where the mayor is paid $53,319 and council $21,676, Langford ($34,252 and $16,107) and Squamish ($64,490 and $27,731).

It was noted that 2003 was the last time Salmon Arm’s mayor and council received a raise. With that in mind, Coun. Alan Harrison said now is a right time to address the matter, noting there’s the municipal election in November.

“None of us know if we’re going to be sitting here again, some may choose not to… So it’s a fair way to do it I think,” said Harrison. “I’m of the feeling that, certainly the mayor’s salary that’s suggested is well-deserved. It’s more like a full-time job.

“For councillors, I think it is a remuneration and should remain at that. It’s not a full-time job. But there is a responsibility to it for sure. And I think being the average in the province is probably a fair way to do it.”

Noting she is one of those councillors who won’t be running in November, Marg Kentel did not support the recommended increases happening all at once next year, suggesting it could be spread over the four-year-term.

“Most of us that ran for council, we just do it for  – I don’t know why we do it, especially when we do it so long.

“We do it for our community,” said Kentel. “It does take away from your job. I know that. I could cite instances where, being a realtor, you vote some way that somebody doesn’t like, it can affect your earnings on the other side, but I’m not comfortable with that big a raise right off.”

When elected in 2011, Mayor Nancy Cooper said she was surprised that council remuneration was the same as when she was on council in 2003.

“With the increase in work that I’ve seen, and the amount of hours and the number of committees are way more than what we had at that time in 2003, I will support it,” said Cooper.

Coun. Chad Eliason said the increase for council would amount to about $1,500 a month.

“Which isn’t a ton of money considering the hours we do put in,” said Eliason.

“We’ve had weeks where we’ve put in over 40 hours just for public hearings.

“It definitely takes away from your other work.”

In his report, Lamb also reviews expenses. He generally recommends there be no changes, except for the per diem that is paid for such things as attending meetings.

Lamb says Salmon Arm has a higher per diem rate ($150/day) than the majority of survey participants (averaging $89/day), and recommends this be reviewed.

Council, however, did not discuss expenses.

Council briefly discussed, and voted against, a recommended remuneration increase of $7,517 a year, from the current $50 per day/ $600 per month for the deputy mayor.

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