Regarding the recent special council meeting of February 10, where the raises for council were removed from the 2020 budget, I wanted to write to offer some further observations on this issue.
While I am truly sad that I am not on council any longer, at least my resignation brought the attention to bear that was needed on this important issue of public trust.
In the same motion, council voted to ask city staff to research and draft a policy for council remuneration for the future. I think it is suspect to have those who report to mayor and council be responsible for telling them what they should be making. I trust our senior city staff to be objective but putting staff on the hot seat like that is not something I would have supported.
The comments made by councillors and mayor at that meeting are also telling. The gist of those comments was to say that they need to do these raises, that they believe the majority opinion is with them on the issue, and that they hope to get it back on the table as soon as possible.
Based on those comments, it is hard to conclude anything other than the pulling back on the raises issue is only a “cool it off” tactic and not a real change of heart. I believe that once armed with a staff report supporting their position the mayor and council will likely vote themselves large raises to benefit themselves during their current term, however I encourage anyone interested to watch the video themselves and draw their own conclusions.
Some level of increase is needed, however, just because other town councils are increasing rates hugely does not necessarily make it the right thing for Revelstoke. Are we in a race to keep up with other politicians who voted themselves big raises, which are now conveniently being called “industry standards”? Or are we trying to do what is best for Revelstoke?
Many key questions and debates need to occur. How many hours are truly needed? What should the hourly rate be for such work given the skill set and contribution by a councillor or mayor can vary wildly? Would putting more money into training and facilitation be a better way to help mayor and council be more effective rather than paying them more? What is the leadership model we want from our elected officials? Most importantly do we believe that paying career type salaries is the best motive for community service, or do we believe that more of an honorarium approach is what is best for our town?
Ultimately these elected roles are about governance and not operations. It would be a mistake to confuse the two and yet that is what seems to be happening.
I would like to see a report cover these things and for mayor and council to have those debates in the public forum. But whatever happens, any increase larger than simple cost of living, ought to only be approved for the next elected council and not the sitting one. Any other choice is ethically suspect and to represents really poor community leadership.
Former councillor for Revelstoke