Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who has not had an assistant in her role as mayor, reasons that previous mayors Dean Fortin and Alan Lowe both had similar employees. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

City of Victoria earmarks $90,000 for mayoral assistant

The new Head of Strategy and Operations would help with municipal duties

Victoria City Council reluctantly agreed to a $90,000 budget for an assistant to Mayor Lisa Helps.

In Thursday’s committee of the whole, and following in a late council meeting, the originally-proposed motion put forward by Helps asking for $120,000 was whittled down to $90,000 for the Head of Strategy and Operations role. The salary would be topped an additional 20 per cent for benefits and pension.

Helps, who has not had an assistant in her role as mayor, reasoned that previous mayors Dean Fortin and Alan Lowe both had similar employees who earned on average $80,000, and argued that the qualifications for these individuals were lower than her desired candidate. The people holding the role previously required a bachelor’s degree and three years experience, while Helps is seeking someone with a master’s degree and 10 years experience to act in her stead when she is away, and to assist her in ongoing municipal duties.

READ MORE: City of Victoria releases draft 2019 budget

In the committee of the whole meeting, council voted to have the salary down to $80,000, a number Helps felt was inadequate enough to forgo the hiring process altogether.

“I don’t need a junior person, I need a senior person,” Helps said. “If council wants to approve a salary of $80,000 it goes to the job description from previous eras. That’s fine, if that’s what council wants to do that’s council’s prerogative, but I won’t hire that person. I don’t need that person.”

Later, at the beginning of council, Coun. Sharmarke Dubow motioned an amendment for $100,000, where Coun. Ben Isitt moved to amend it down to $90,000.

Only 34 per cent of unionized City staff make $80,000 or more. This does not include councillors, who will earn $44,062 in renumeration in 2019, where the mayor will make over $110,156 before expenses.

READ MORE: Victoria city council sees full house to discuss 2019 budget

“I think we need some context on what most people in our community make,” said Coun. Ben Isitt. “I think the assumption that you can only get very good people for very large sums of money is false.”

Isitt also suggested that any one of the councillors could act as deputy mayor in Helps’ absence, so that an elected official could carry on actions and hold more accountability, though the topic did not move further.

Council voted eight-to-one, with Coun. Geoff Young opposed, to the two-year contract of $90,000 plus benefits.

“This would put them on par with the most well-compensated assistants to cabinet ministers,” Isitt said. “I think it’s completely a reasonable amount. “

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

International migration drives population rise in B.C.

No joke, provincial population topped 5 million by April 1

Langford liquor store targeted by thieves twice in one night

West Shore RCMP seek to identify break and enter suspect

Victoria city councillors advocate for better measures to reduce sexual violence in downtown bars

A motion coming to council this week asks for more action from liquor establishments

Slow down for maintenance on the Malahat this week

Minor touch-ups and repairs scheduled Monday through Thursday

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Most Read