Council raise was more than focus group recommended

Re: Mayor, city councillors vote themselves pay raise behind closed doors, www.revelstoketimesreview.com, Aug. 19.

Editor,

Re: Mayor, city councillors vote themselves pay raise behind closed doors, www.revelstoketimesreview.com, Aug. 19.

The article makes reference to the focus group recommending a pay raise. I would like to clarify that statement.  The focus group was asked to consider this issue in conjunction with the budget discussions. The focus group collected data from communities within B.C., we then chose those of comparable size. With this information, we felt that a raise of $1,500 per year for councillors and $3,000 for the mayor would put our officials in the mid-range of remuneration. Here is our exact wording from the document submitted to council from the focus group:

On a separate note, we were asked to provide our opinion regarding the mayor’s and councillors’ annual salaries. It is our collective opinion that the mayor’s annual salary be increased to $25,000 and councillors to be $12,500 per annum, beginning with the next term of office. Thereafter, annual increases should occur and be tied to a cost of living index. This increase would bring our city officials to the provincial mid-average for communities our size.  While no person runs for politics for a monetary reasons, we do not believe that they should be undervalued by the community.

Council has foregone an increase in past years at their own choosing. It is shocking to now see that they have doubled the recommended amount and dealt with it in camera so there is no way to know who initiated the motion and who supported it. Having been part of the focus group and knowing the amount of time and effort that the group expended, the seriousness of the issue, I feel, is that the council has only paid lip service to the recommendations from us. This group only seems to have been formed as a response to the chastisement council received from the business community over taxes. As this council nears the end of its term there are three facts that sadly stand out:

1) The largest budget to date.

2) The largest debt to date.

3) Reserves virtually depleted.

This letter is not intended to slam the amount of time and effort that the council puts in; it can be a thankless task. My comments are however, to be critical of apparent poor decisions in how this issue has been handled. In closing I want to clarify that even though I was a member of the financial focus group, I write this article on behalf of myself.

Bob Melnyk,

Revelstoke