Port Alberni votes to change way council pay is increased

New way will focus on Consumer Price Index, future councils

Port Alberni city council will be changing the way they vote for council pay increases.

Although there was plenty on conversation around council remuneration on Monday, Dec. 10—“a topic nobody wants to talk about,” City CAO Tim Pley said—council did not vote on a pay raise. Instead, they voted to change the structure around council wages.

Up until the Judy Rogers Report on management was released in 2016, the city used a bylaw that set out the incremental wage increases for each year. After 2016, the CAO has brought a report to council and made a recommendation for council to follow.

READ: Long-awaited management review released

“You get to vote on your own remuneration,” said Pley on Monday. “Which isn’t fair, it’s just reality.”

After Monday’s meeting, city staff will be bringing back a draft bylaw, where mayor and council remuneration will be increased each year by a percentage equal to the B.C. Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the previous year. In the third year of each term of council, the city will undertake a marketplace review for exempt personnel salaries, and also a review of mayor and council remuneration.

Under the bylaw, any changes to mayor and council remuneration wouldn’t become effective until the year after an election.

“There’s really no way around you voting on increases for council,” explained Pley. “But by doing [this] you would be voting on increases for the next council.”

This structure is fairly standard for other communities, said Pley, and avoids a “difficult position” where council has to vote on a pay raise for themselves.

“You don’t want to say ‘no’ to exempt employees and you don’t want to say ‘yes’ to yourselves,” he said. “Adopting a structure like this will prevent that conversation from happening.”

Council will actually be facing a reduction in wages in 2019, as all remuneration will be fully taxed starting in the new year. In previous years one-third of a council member’s pay was non-taxable.

Mayor Sharie Minions agreed that the only way to have an “impartial” change to council remuneration is to hold it at the midway point of a council’s term. “It’s far enough out that it’s not considered our salary,” she said.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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