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Rickter Scale: Another dip in the bottomless pit

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

Actually, Coun. Isitt, serving on a municipal council isn’t a full-time job or even a part-time job. It’s a vocation traditionally filled by people who dedicate time and energy to making their city, town, or municipality a better place for the folks that call that particular burg their home.

While few would argue against some form of remuneration for those who answer the call, any suggestion of a wage matching what city workers make is off the mark by a municipal mile. And any defence that trots out that tired old tripe about attracting the best and brightest makes it downright offensive.

The number of people who eagerly tossed their fedora, cap, toque or headband into the ring for the last civic election clearly underlines there’s no shortage of candidates in Victoria, qualified or otherwise.

As it stands, the $45,000 you cited as salary conveniently omits the $19,000 councillors on Capital Regional District boards receive. Then there’s that expense package people in Victoria living on an annual median income of $40,500 or less can only dream about.

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We need to prune the magical money tree that many elected officials believe yields an endless crop of money to spend by simply shaking it out of taxpayer’s pockets. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, Ben, other than the $10,000 you managed to finagle so the public can pick up the bill for the catered meals councillors munch on during meeting breaks. The purpose of that – your words, Ben – is to “foster efficiency and better team building.” Maybe if councillors worked for a week on the team at a fast food emporium they’d have a better sense of what it’s like to work for a wage more in line with what the average Joe or Josephine scrapes along on.

Regarding your comments on the challenges of sometimes having to deal with the three meetings a week? Sounds like a mixed bag of buyer beware meets be careful what you wish for. Take a look down the road at Langford, where the first pay hike in 13 years upped councillors from $17,661 to a modest $27,410 a year, or half of what their colleagues in Victoria earn. Maybe the key to Langford’s success at that rate of remuneration is that council’s focus is aimed at doing what they believe is best for their community. They keep it local and within the job description’s boundaries, as opposed to trying to solve the problems in the rest of the universe beyond Langford’s borders.

I shook my head in silence when you tried to kill Christmas decorations, and your move to make veterans pay for their Remembrance Day parade gave me motion sickness. But floating a 55 per cent raise while so many are struggling made me bite my lip until it hemorrhaged. Some suggest it’s a ploy to slide in a boost in the 20 per cent range once the uproar settles down, but I’m not buying that.

Ask the working-class heroes and heroines you talk to how many have seen their earnings go up 10 per cent in five years, then settle down for a hike that covers the cost of living. It would send a message we can all live with.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.


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