Port Alberni city council has voted to give themselves a raise.
Council voted 5-2 in favour of increasing their stipends. The mayor will now make $38,450 while councillors stipends will bump up to $17,041.
“People give us trust…don’t give ourselves a raise,” said Coun. Hira Chopra, who voted against the move. “I’m totally against it. I think it’s wrong.”
There’s no surprises when people run for public office, Chopra said. “People know how much they make and what they’re getting into,” he said.
Coun. Cindy Solda also voted against the raise, saying that council gets a cost-of-living increase every year and reiterated that an outside committee should have looked at this first.
Couns Cole, Washington and Kerr voted in favour of the raise.
People will be able to demand more accountability from councillors now because of the pay raise, Cole said.
The raise is a start, said Washington, who also agreed that it will attract a younger crowd. “Mayor (Ken) McRae said he couldn’t afford to run for mayor until he retired,” Washington said.
Coun. Jack McLeman supported the motion but not how the pay rolls out, he said.
The move is necessary for working people on council to make up for taking time off for council duties.
“I don’t think councillors should have to give down to the last holiday on their bank account,” he said.
The city should adopt a pay regime similar to the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District which doles out its stipends based on meeting attendance.
Voting for a raise now or voting for one that applies to the next council doesn’t matter, Mayor John Douglas said. “There’s never a good time to address this issue.”
Following the meeting Douglas defended his support of the motion.
When asked why council would bother voting for it to take effect immediately as opposed to after the election when it would still apply, Douglas responded “Because that’s how the motion was worded and we dealt with it,” he said.