Now’s a good time to consider a council pay raise

The mayor and council are underpaid. The mayor makes $22,000 while each of the six councillors make $11,000 each.

Another opportunity to discuss an overdue council pay raise came and went last week.

While the optics of voting yourself a pay raise are never good, now’s about the best time to do it. Here’s why.

The mayor and council are underpaid. The mayor makes $22,000 while each of the six councillors make $11,000 each.

There was a system in place for regular reviews of council remuneration, but that has fallen by the wayside; the last time it was discussed was prior to the last budget process, when council didn’t want to talk about it amidst a business ratepayer revolt.

We’re not alone in calling for a council raise. The citizens’ budget oversight group struck to monitor the budget process this year came to the same conclusion, saying council needs to explore a pay raise. And remember, many on that committee became involved because of perceived overspending at city hall.

So, why does council need a raise?

Frankly, the people who sit around the council table need to better reflect the changing demographics in this community. We need more women, mothers, young people, mid-career professionals and new faces in general. Currently, Revelstokians in their 20s, 30s and 40s have no representatives from their age group on council. There is only one woman on council. Remuneration is a factor here.

A pay raise that brings council pay in line with other similar communities in B.C. could help change that. As it stands, the pay is just not worth it for someone who has to rationalize the hours they will need to commit versus the realities of mortgage payments and the cost of raising children.

This skews council’s demographic and perspective. A councillor who finished paying off his mortgage in the ‘80s doesn’t see a few hundred more on the property tax bill as a big issue. For a young family, that difference forces hard choices.

Why is now the right time? Council can ask for a staff report and target a changeover for Jan. 1, 2012, after the next election. If current councillors want to reap the benefits of the raise, they’ll have to win approval from voters first.