While it’s a big boost, recommended pay raises for mayor and council are at the lowest end of the spectrum for remuneration, according to Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell.
A staff report tabled at the June 17 regular meeting of council recommends increasing councillors remuneration from $17,661 to $27,410 a year, effective Jan. 1. According to an independent study, Mayor Stew Young is in line for a significant raise as well, with a pay increase from $37,558 to $75,863.
Blackwell, who has served on Langford council for 26 years, said the staff report outlined that even with an increase of about 50 per cent, the salary falls at the lowest end of the spectrum for municipalities of comparable size and population.
”We haven’t had an increase for 13 years, so you could say it’s long overdue,” Blackwell noted. “It wouldn’t be as high if we’d done a review every two years like we’re supposed to.”
“No one does this for the money,” Blackwell noted, pointing to the many hours of meetings, events, public engagement and other tasks involved in serving on council. She cited the time involved in preparation for the most recent council meeting. “The last agenda was 220 pages,” she noted. “That takes quite a lot of your time on the weekend.”
Young said a bylaw passed in 2006 requires an independent assessment of wages for staff, mayor and council be conducted every two years, based on comparably sized municipalities.
When some councillors requested a wage review, Young wanted to form a committee and have the finance committee take a look.
“We had a population of 18,000 back then and we’re at about 40,000 now,” he said. “We’ve had the reviews done for staff, but not for council. I’ll take some responsibility for that. I want to make sure that the next mayor and council coming in get the correct rate comparable to other municipalities.”
Although Young said the increase appears to be more significant because of the lengthy delay, he emphasized that Langford remains at the lowest end of the pay scale. “We’re the busiest municipality of any under 40,000 people, and we still have the lowest rate of pay.”
The report indicated councillors in Port Moody receive $40,579, while the mayor’s wage is $111,8333. North Cowichan, with a population of just under 30,000, pays Mayor Al Siebring $79, 956, and councillors receive $28,782.
“It was the right move. Council’s done a good job over the last 13 years,” Young added. “Part of our culture is to keep taxes down and we’ve done that. The growth in Langford will more than compensate for the increase.”
While councillors may request the raise be phased in over a one, two or three-year period, Young opted for five years.