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Port Moody council votes itself a pay raise
Port Moody council members gave themselves an early Christmas present Tuesday evening.
At a special meeting called so council could vote to contribute up to $10,000 towards the reconstruction of Mossom Creek Hatchery, which was destroyed by fire six days earlier, council also approved a sizable pay hike for itself.
That vote — held with few members of the public present and no community TV cameras on hand — means councillors' salaries will jump 29.3% to $33,000 a year while the mayor's salary will go to $85,000, up 16.5% from the current rate.
The city had hired Sainas Consult Inc. to deal with the issue and the consultant's report looked at council pay in the municipalities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Langley and White Rock.
The report found that the average annual salary in those municipalities is $35,314 for councillors and $90,995 for mayors.
It suggested that Port Moody councillors' pay go from the current $25,520 to $33,000 and that the mayor's salary jump from $72,914 to $83,000.
Council voted 6-2 in favour of the recommended increase for councillors but chose to increase the mayor's salary to $85,000, $2,000 more than recommended, on a motion by Coun. Diana Dilworth.
Mayor Mike Clay and Coun. Rick Glumac voted against the raises.
"It's just too much of an increase. It's a 30% increase and that's not realistic," said Clay, who suggested council phase in the salary increase over six years.
Clay said he isn't convinced raising council's pay will attract better candidates in the future. "I think you might get better [candidates] if you didn't pay any money at all," he said.
The list of comparable municipalities chosen by council for the consultant to review have populations that range from White Rock at 19,211 to Coquitlam's 126,456. The average population of the municipalities included in the comparison is 63,642, nearly double Port Moody's population of 34,567.
"Those are the ones that they chose and I think some of them aren't realistic to compare Port Moody to," said Clay, adding West Vancouver has a similar population but its salary figures weren't received in time to be included in the report.
"I don't know what their numbers were but I know when you added them in, it brought the averages down quite a bit so they're obviously at or near the levels we're at now," he said, adding the last salary review was done in 2008 and increases in council salaries have been tied to inflation or the consumer price index since that time.
Dilworth said comparing pay based solely on population isn't necessarily fair. "Do they work twice as hard as we do?" she asked, noting that she often spends more than 20 hours a week on council business.
And while she gave no specific reason for making a motion to raise the mayor's salary beyond the consultant's recommended figure, Dilworth defended her vote in favour of the raises.
"What's troubling is we are far below our peers in our base salary," she said.
The mayor, meanwhile, defended the timing of the vote, coming at a special meeting of council when few members of the public were present. He said council asked the consultant to prepare the report in June and received the findings in the past month.
"There was a desire on council to get it done before the end of the year, which we weren't going to be able to do," said Clay. "When we decided we wanted to do this thing for the hatchery, our staff came back and said we have the report from the consultant on the salaries if you want to bring that forward."