Editorial — The importance of setting an example

One thing that good leaders do is show a willingness to make tough decisions. They also accept personal sacrifices.

It’s amazing that members of Langley Township council can defend, even in passing, their unreasonable raises.

Councillor Steve Ferguson commented last week that “Now is not the time to cut remuneration.”

Why not?

Councillors have seen their salaries  go up by 112 per cent in eight years, and the mayor’s salary has gone up by 70 per cent. Raises every three years are based on an average of council salaries in six Lower Mainland municipalities.

Councillors have sat back and accepted these raises without a whisper. If The Times had not publicized these raises in December, it is quite likely that they would have passively accepted them again. There would be no discussion of them in an upcoming council workshop, as is now planned.

Members of any government body are elected to be leaders in the community. One thing that good leaders do is show a willingness to make tough decisions. They also accept personal sacrifices — if those sacrifices will lead to long-term improvements in the organization they are charged with leading.

Township council would like its employees, whose union contract has expired, to accept either a wage freeze or a very modest increase. This is a sign of leadership — taxpayers have been hit with a long string of tax increases from three to five per cent annually, and many live on incomes that haven’t changed for several years. Council can’t possibly hold the line on taxes if unionized staff get a five per cent wage increase.

If council wants to set a good example, and demonstrate to its employees that it is not the right time for a wage increase, council members need to lead by example. One way to do so would be to not accept the new  raises, but instead continue to serve under the salaries that were in place from 2008 to 2011. In that period, the mayor made $93,746 annually, while councillors got $36,043.

A willingness to freeze wages, while looking at a better way to set future raises, would be a sign of good faith. It would set the right tone as negotiations begin on a new employee contract.

It would also create a good impression with Township taxpayers, who have to shell out additional taxes to all levels of government, and would welcome a sign of restraint at the municipal level.

Langley Times