Updated: Williams Lake City Council will be getting a raise but not at either of the two options staff had recommended.
“I’d love to give Mayor and Councillors a big raise but we simply aren’t in the position,” Councillor Scott Nelson said.
Nelson’s recommendation that council’s compensation is adjusted to account for the change in Canada Revenue Agency policy which eliminated a deduction for elected officials and further that council’s compensation is adjusted annually in line with the consumer price index effective January 1, 2020, was unanimously supported at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
“If you took the application of the consumer price index over the 16 year time period since that 2004 policy was adopted, you’d probably end up with very similar numbers,” CAO Milo MacDonald said.
“It’s been a very long period of time during which there has been no adjustment. I think as well the Canada Revenue change in policy which removed the ability to claim an exemption proportion of the compensation created a hardship on a number of councils.”
MacDonald added that most councils have already addressed this.
“Most councils have compensated for it and during the report that was prepared for us by a consultant analyzing comparable municipalities the determination was made that the municipality falls well short of comparable compensation-there’s a little over a 30 percent gap to the average.”
Councillor Jason Ryll said although the City has had a policy to base Council remuneration on the consumer price index since 2005, Council remuneration is the first thing to get frozen.
“It hasn’t changed since 2005, so I would just say to Councillor Nelson who made the recommendation that your recommendation in fact hits this nail directly on the head so I would have no problem supporting this.”
Nelson noted that Council had extended a four-year moratorium five years ago on any remuneration increases and did a corporate reorganization.
“We’re in an interesting situation now where we’re relying more on the economy and investment to continue our stretch through this transition that’s taking place right now,” Nelson said.
“I’m a big proponent on making sure that you pay your staff and you look after the community first of all. By doing the exemption that’s in front of us basically what it does do is it replaces the percentage that the feds took away and made us pay tax on, and that essentially it moves to the consumer price index on an annual basis.”
Mayor Walt Cobb said if Council was in office for money then they have not made some good choices.
“It is experience. It is working as a group. It is the growth that a person has within themselves of being able to understand how a city works and for that I am hugely thankful for,” Councillor Marnie Brenner said.
“I agree 100 percent we can try to get up us to compensation but it’s not something we’re going to be making money at.”
Nelson said while Council’s remuneration based on his recommendation will still be below the average of the comparator organizations in a recent comprehensive review, he believes it is the right thing to do in these tight times.
Chief Financial Officer Vitali Kozubenko said a study the Canadian Federation of Municipalities conducted a study that found the new rules of the tax assessment had an average impact of 12.9 percent.
“That’s about $175 a month,” Councillor Scott Nelson said.
The current salary for Williams Lake Mayor is $43,687.92 and $15,240 for each Councillor.
(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comment by the City’s Chief Financial Officer.)