Revelstoke city council voted against a recommended pay increase, pushing the decision to after the November election.
Council discussed a recommended increase in renumeration that would see the mayor’s salary increase to $33,000 from $28,000 and a councillor’s salary go up by $1,000 to $15,000. A report by Tim Palmer, the City of Revelstoke’s Chief Administrative Officer, said the increases would bring mayor and councils salaries in line with that of similar communities.
At its meeting on Tuesday, May 27, mayor and council gave a variety of reasons for not voting for the raise, even though there was a general feeling the job is a lot of work and they are underpaid.
Councillor Gary Starling said that a raise would send the wrong message, given council’s budget challenges in recent years.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that sits on council that’s here from the money and I’m not so sure that more money is going to make it more attractive for better personnel. I think if you’re here for the money, you’re here for the wrong reasons,” he said. “Having said that, I think the decision should be left for the new council. That might be a bit of a cop out but that’s the way I feel.”
Coun. Steve Bender agreed with Starling, saying he wasn’t opposed to a raise, but the decision should be left to the next council. “You can make the argument that more money is going to attract better people,” he said. “You can also make the argument that if that’s what you’re doing it for, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”
Chris Johnston was the only councillor to vote in favour of the raise, saying it wasn’t fair to leave that decision it to a new council. “Do it now and they have it out of their hair and whoever new council is can deal with other things and not worry about the elephant in the room, which is ‘How much are we going to pay ourselves?'” he said. “I think we’re doing a favour to the next council by dealing with it now and not saddling them with trying to vote themselves a raise.”
Mayor David Raven voted against the recommendation, not because he didn’t support a raise — he said that mayor and council were underpaid — but because doing so now, while the city is negotiating new contracts with employee unions would be poor optics.
“I think it sends the wrong message if we pass this now,” he said. “I can argue that it’s well worth it, because it’s below minimum wage even with the increase. You don’t do this job for the money and you don’t do it for the glory and you don’t do it for the fight. Going forward, I ‘m not sure this is the right time to do it. Maybe in five or six months the climate might be better, but in today’s market, I have trouble doing it, particularly the mayor’s raise.”
Couns. Linda Nixon and Phil Welock also voted against the motion. Coun. Tony Scarcella was not at the meeting.
In the end the recommendation was defeated. A decision on a raise will now most likely be made during the 2015 budget process, following November’s election.