City council voted itself a 2.1 pay increase Monday in a decision that also applies to city employees without a collective agreement.
Councillor Denis Sauvé was the only one who did not support the motion during a regular meeting of council.
Retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, the increases were recommended by Tim Pley, chief administrative officer, and are based on the B.C. consumer price index along with a survey of neighbouring municipalities.
In a report to council, Pley stated that city employees with CUPE and the International Association of Fire Fighters received pay increases of 2.25 and 2.5 percent respectively as of Jan. 1. His report also noted that it is standard municipal practice to base increases for non-union employees and council members on the B.C. CPI from the previous year.
“I wholeheartedly agree that we have to stay competitive or we’ll lose exempt (non-union staff),” said Councillor Dan Washington.
City policy requires that the CAO annually make a recommendation on the twin increases in salaries and remuneration.
“We made the decision that we would vote each year so it’s clear,” said Mayor Mike Ruttan.
Qualicum Beach, Parksville and Quesnel, selected because of its similarity to Port Alberni in terms of industrial base, increased non-union salaries by 2.1 percent. Campbell River’s increase was two percent this year.
Pley indicated that the 2.1 percent increase exceeds what was provided for in the city’s five-year financial plan by 0.1 percent but the extra can be accommodated in the plan.
Sauvé said after the meeting that he voted against the pay hike for council because he looks at his role as a volunteer commitment and doesn’t feel that the increase is sufficient to attract younger people to the job.
“I think you can’t put a price-tag on it in a community that’s fighting for jobs,” he added.
He said he was in favour of the increase for exempt staff, which is why he asked whether the two decisions could be voted on separately.