City of Revelstoke’s council has approved a pay increase for mayor and councillors. If approved, remuneration for council in Revelstoke, a city of approximately 8,000, would be comparable to remuneration received by the mayor and council in Salmon Arm, a city of approximately 18,000. (File photo)

Fair pay? Revelstoke council seeks wage similar to Salmon Arm counterparts

Neighbouring mountain town pursues different path to increase remuneration

A proposed pay increase would put the earnings of Revelstoke’s mayor and council, who oversee a population of approximately 8,000 people, on par with their counterparts in Salmon Arm, a city of about 19,000.

In the midst of budget deliberations, the council for Salmon Arm’s neighbouring mountain town proposed their wages be increased over a three-year period, from $15,300 to $25,000 for councillors and $30,600 to $70,000 for the mayor.

This prompted one Revelstoke councillor to resign in protest.

“When we all ran for office we all said we wanted to work for a better community,” Steven Cross commented while still serving alongside his fellow first-term councillors. “None of us said we wanted to increase council salaries.”

If the increase is approved, it would eventually put remuneration for Revelstoke’s mayor and councillors in line with the City of Salmon Arm.

According to Salmon Arm’s remuneration bylaw, as of Jan. 1, 2019, the mayor was paid $64,393, the deputy mayor $26,201 and councillors $25,504. Remuneration could increase annually by the amount of the B.C. Consumer Price Index for the prior year. In years where it is negative, remuneration would stay the same.

Current remuneration figures for Salmon Arm’s mayor and council were arrived at over a five-year period that included two municipal elections.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison explained how in 2013, the city did a study looking at remuneration for mayors and councils of like-sized cities in the province. From that, a bylaw was proposed to increase remuneration from $15,000 to $21,660 for councillors, and $44,800 to $53,725 for mayor. However, approval of the bylaw was left to the newly elected council of 2014.

Read more: UPDATE: Revelstoke City Council gives themselves a raise, councillor resigns in protest

Read more: Councillor in Revelstoke withdraws proposed 67% pay hike amid backlash

Read more: School District #83 board approves pay increase for trustees

“So in 2014, there was pointed discussion during that election, which was perfectly fair game, and the bylaw then was passed following the election, to start Jan. 1, 2015…,” said Harrison, who served as a city councillor at the time. “We tried to set it basically right in the middle, or just below like-sized communities in the province as of Jan. 1.”

In 2018, Salmon Arm council proposed another pay increase to compensate for the federal government’s elimination of a tax-free allowance for elected officials. Council voted for a 13.5 per cent increase for the mayor ($56,734 to $64,393), and an 11.5 per cent increase for the deputy mayor and council ($23,506 to $26,210 for deputy mayor and $22,873 to $25,503 for council).

While unwilling to discuss what’s happening in Revelstoke, Harrison did speak to the commitment involved with being mayor.

“The unique part of being a mayor of any city is you’re thinking about it all the time…,” said Harrison. “Whenever I go on holidays I compare what’s happening in those cities to what’s happening here. I like doing that, it’s not a complaint in anyway. But that’s a part of the job.

“I don’t think a person could do this job properly and have another place of work. It’s different than being a councillor. If you’re a councillor, you can work on the side as well. Our councillors work awfully hard here, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not quite the same.”

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