Qualicum Beach town council members have adopted a bylaw to increase their pay.
Council passed the motion in support of the increase, with only Coun. Adam Walker opposed, during the Feb. 25 regular meeting.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek presented a motion during a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 30 “that council review an amendment to the Town of Qualicum Beach Council Remuneration and Expenses Bylaw No. 667 at the Feb. 4, 2019 Regular Council meeting to consider an increase and amendment to the annual remuneration of the mayor to $46,000 and for councillors to $34,500.”
Westbroek said if council didn’t support a pay increase, they’d “actually be asking council to take a pay cut.”
“Because of the federal government’s change in taxation, where one-third used to be exempt, we now have to pay taxes,” he said.
At the Feb. 4 meeting, town CAO Daniel Sailland laid out some stats and comparisons with regards to the proposed increases. He noted the federal government removal of the one-third tax free policy for elected officials, meaning that council is currently taking home less pay than it otherwise would.
The town provided figures late Tuesday indicating that the stipend for 2018 included gross pay of $36,558.23 for the mayor and $22,709.30 for councillors. Noting that the entire council stipend amount is subject to tax in 2019, whereas in 2018 only 2/3 was taxable, the figures listed put the net pay increase between 2018 and 2019 for the mayor at 11.2%, and 32% for councillors. (Tax calculation is based on the stipends being their only source of income. If a member of council has additional income or deductions it would vary these tax amounts).
Coun. Robert Filmer said since passing three readings for an increase on Feb. 4, he’s heard several comments from residents saying a pay raise should have been done with the previous council. He asked Westbroek if an increase was proposed last term.
“Last time the RDN did their compensation review they had a very extensive report, they hired a consultant, and I took that information back to the previous council and asked if they wanted to do something similar… I think I asked twice whether there was an appetite to address this and there was no appetite so I felt it was not fair for this council to take a pay cut because the previous council didn’t want to address it,” Westbroek said.
At the Feb. 4 council meeting, Coun. Walker said he thought the proposed council pay was appropriate and the proposed pay for the mayor was actually still too low, but he felt the amendment should apply to the following term of council and not this one.
Regional District of Nanaimo directors receive $34,000 in pay, while the chair receives $65,000. In Parksville, the mayor and council receive $33,440 and $13,890, respectively, with increases tied to Consumer Price Index.
During a comment period at the Feb. 25 meeting, Qualicum Beach resident Jean Young, who ran for a councillor position in the October election, told council she expected the pay increase would be tabled for now to allow for more discussion.
“Especially when at the last council meeting [the bylaw] was aggressively pushed through on three readings in one sitting, so there is no participation from our community, your employer, the people that are paying your salary,” Young said. “When I ran for council, like when you apply for any job, you ask what does the job entail, what does it pay, how many hours does it take? So when we have the present council saying it’s overwhelming, we had no idea, well just giving yourself a pay raise isn’t going to help you with tasking all that’s needed to be done.”
This story has been updated with up-to-date remuneration figures from the Town of Qualicum Beach