Following remuneration cuts from the federal government, Colwood city council voted to give the incoming council a minor increase in pay.
Beginning in 2019, the next mayor and councillors will receive a 7.5 per cent increase – which translates to a roughly $1.13 tax increase per household.
The increase comes after the federal government introduced legislation in 2017 to eliminate the 1/3 tax free allowance that is normally afforded to councillors to compensate for incidental expenses, such as business use of a personal cell phone, supplies, vehicle expenses and expenses incurred from working at home.
Coun. Cynthia Day said while most people who run for office are not in it for the money, councillors should be compensated fairly for the amount of hours that they put into the position.
“I think the tax policy was a good policy. Since that has changed it’s important to compensate, not myself, but the next council, whoever that may be in a way that makes it easy for them to do what we’re asking them to do, because it is a lot that we ask of people,” she said during Monday’s council meeting.
Coun. Jason Nault agreed, noting councillors are required to do a lot more work compared to previous years.
“We didn’t used to have 160-page agendas. In 2004, council was earning about $11.40 an hour. In 2016 that was up to $12.78. It’s not like we’re being grossly overpaid,” he said. “In 2019, it would bring it up to about $15 an hour, which is less than our lowest paid union worker.”
But not everyone agreed. Coun. Gordie Logan was the lone councillor to vote against the change. He said in larger municipalities around Greater Victoria, councillors have chosen to give up their day jobs due to the workload, but Colwood hasn’t grown to that size yet.
“I work full-time so I don’t consider this a job, more giving back,” he said. “We’re not at the size yet where someone can quit their job and take on this role. If we were the City of Victoria or Saanich, then perhaps it would make sense to make sure there’s some financial incentive for folks to run because they have to give up their day time job.”