Coun. Ben Isitt (File contributed/ City of Victoria)

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt calls for limitation of council duties in response to survey results

The survey asked residents if they would be in support of a 55 per cent salary increase

Coun. Ben Isitt believes there should be some serious reconsideration of council duties following feedback on a proposed salary increase.

A question put forward by Isitt in November as part of the 2020 Draft Budget survey asked the public if it would be in favour of a 55 per cent pay hike for councillors, who haven’t seen a remuneration increase since 2009. The jump would see councillors going from $43,000 to $70,100, a proposition Isitt said would equate councillors to the median income of a full-time city worker, besides firefighters and police officers.

READ MORE: Victoria councillors ask taxpayers for opinions on 55 per cent wage increase

More than 5,000 people responded with 86 per cent saying they “strongly disagreed” with the idea.

“I welcome receiving this feedback from the public. Public opinion region-wide appears to support limiting Victoria city councillors to part-time remuneration and duties, based on the results of this unscientific questionnaire of self-selected residents,” Isitt said in an emailed statement.

“One way to achieve this outcome, if the informal questionnaire reflects public opinion of City of Victoria elects, is to shift to the model in Saanich of evening meetings rather than daytime meetings so that councillors can engage in regular employment.”

ALSO READ: Victoria residents overwhelmingly opposed to councillor pay raise

Isitt calculated hours and estimated that most councillors spend between 40-85 hours per week working on council-related duties bringing the 2019 total to 550 hours per councillors so far. He compares this to the approximately 140 hours worked by Saanich councillors, despite it being a larger municipality.

Paring down council duties, he argued, could bring councillors back to a part-time roll.

“Public access to councillors could also be reviewed, shifting to a lower level of responsiveness to correspondence, meeting requests, telephone calls and media inquiries,” he said.

ALSO READ: Municipal watchdog calls Victoria councillors’ request for salary increase ‘boneheaded’

In a motion coming to council on Thursday, Isitt suggests that the city further analyze the situation and choose one of three options.

The first would leave things as is at a rate of $24 per hour for 35 hours, and accepting that this is “inaccessible to early-to-mid-career professionals” without other sources of income.

The second would keep the current remuneration and reduce duties by switching to evening meetings, reducing council oversight of municipal expenditures, reducing public responsiveness, and and “reducing proactive work by councillors with community stakeholders to address social, environmental and governance issues.”

The last idea is to adjust the salary to meet the current duties and determining an appropriate salary adjustment through a citizen’s task force, external review or a referendum.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was happy to hear the feedback, and that she believes a third-party review would be a logical option .

“I think a salary review is overdue as 10 years without reviewing job descriptions and compensations is not good governance,” Helps said. “But I think this work should be done independently and in an orderly way as laid out in our strategic plan.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Traffic delays: Saturday work added to Highway 1 construction schedule

Work continues on dangerous stretch between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway

VIDEO: James Bay wolf released into wild of western Vancouver Island

Conservation officers confirm wolf is from Discovery Island

Canadian Tire Fix-A-Heart campaign raises more than $75,000 for Royal Jubilee Hospital

Donations will help purchase infusion pumps for cardiac care units

Supreme Court bans Victoria man from practising law

Jeremy Maddock received a law degree in 2016 but never completed articling

Victoria shops avoid plastic bags, despite bylaw being voided

The city is working on getting the bylaw re-established

VIDEO: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries

North Saanich woman convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read