Attracting more civic election candidates and making it easier for them to take time off work once they’re elected is behind one city councillor’s request for an increased stipend.
The request is being fronted by Coun. John Douglas, and is being discusses at Monday’s city council meeting.
Douglas’s request is multi-faceted.
He’s asking for councillors’ stipends to be increased to $14,000 per year, and the mayor’s to be increased to $35,000.
An annual two per cent increase is also on the menu.
He suggests compensation of one and a half times the regular stipend if a councillor acts as mayor.
Also that councillors be able to contribute nine per cent of their council earnings to a life insurance plan with matching contributions from the city.
And a computer, cellphone and office space are also on the list.
The council stipend increases will put Port Alberni on par with municipalities of similar size around the province, Douglas said.
Moreover, it will better enable councillors to do their jobs.
“I want to try and make it easier for a larger group of people to consider running for office,” Douglas said.“And once in, these measures will make it easier for councillors to take time off to tend to council business.”
Douglas—who works full time as a paramedic—used himself as an example.
“If I have to take time off I lose both salary and pension benefits,” he said. “That would go a long way in helping councillors who also work full time.”
As for the computer and cellphone, “We have to be able to communicate with people in the modern age,” Douglas said.
The request contrasts the city’s budget process, which is in full swing. Cutbacks by most departments have been the order of the day.
People’s first reaction will be that politicians are sticking their faces in the trough, Douglas said.
“But there’s very little in the trough to begin with,” he said.
“This is mostly volunteer service and we’re paid very little.”