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Report recommends city council pay raises
A citizen task force wants Kamloops council to give itself a raise.
Recommendations from the Council Remuneration Task Force are headed to city council for debate on Tuesday, Oct. 22, with the seven-member committee encouraging councillors and the mayor to up their salaries by about $9,500 and $11,000, respectively.
The goal is to have the mayor receive a paycheque equivalent to 90 per cent of the average compensation paid to mayors in 14 communities of similar size, including Kamloops.
Councillors will make 40 per cent of the mayor's salary.
That would move the mayor's salary to almost $86,000 from about $74,000. Councillor pay would increase to $34,000 from $25,000.
Because the changes wouldn't take effect until 2015, when the next council is sworn in, exact changes to mayor and council salaries are only estimates.
Other cities used in the wage calculation could shift their own compensation plans in the meantime.
A report from committee chairman Brant Hasanen notes the group wanted to balance the feeling of many on council that a raise isn't necessary with the reality that the city is well behind others in B.C. when it comes to wages.
On average, city councillors in similar communities make about $13,000 more than their Kamloops counterparts.
"Our current council is of the opinion that they are comfortable being pegged at the lowest compensation level of their bracket," Hasanen wrote.
"The recommendation being put forward by the task force recognizes that notion, but also creates a reasonable parity going forward."
Hasanen said results from a community survey conducted by the task force during four events this past summer show residents are slightly more in favour of a pay-by-average scenario.
Of the 413 people committee members spoke with, 231 agreed with the concept, while 166 did not. The remaining respondents didn't provide an answer.
The task-force report says there are benefits to going with a higher, more common rate.
"The idea is to have an environment where we attract the best leaders in the community to want to serve on council and to want to serve for more than just one term," Hasanen wrote.
Besides the salary changes, the committee is recommending councillors get cellphones and tablets from the city, rather than a $75-per-month communication allowance.
Under the recommendations, councillors could also opt into the city's benefits plan. Councillors would pay 50 per cent of premium costs.
Should all councillors opt in, the added benefits would cost the city about $10,000 a year.
Add in the raise and city staff estimate adopting the committee recommendation would cost the average taxpayer just under $2 extra in property taxes.
Councillors have been lukewarm on the raise issue.
Coun. Nancy Bepple, who in the spring called for a report on pay levels that sparked the wage debate, has been an advocate for higher pay.
“We’re doing more in terms of community consultation, we’re more involved with external committees as well and there’s also city committees,” Bepple told KTW when she first proposed a pay review.
“The role of the councillors, the work has increased over the last number of years.”
However, other councillors believe their pay levels are fine where they are or, in the case of Coun. Pat Wallace, that the issue should be left until the next election in 2014.
In June, Bepple attempted to get a motion passed that would raise pay to $31,000 per councillor in 2015, but couldn't get the needed support.
An eventual compromise motion after a half-dozen failed votes led to the pay committee being struck and councillors giving themselves a raise of just over $1,000, effective in 2014.