Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood said he has no problem justifying every penny he makes, before voting in favour of a bylaw that will give the next incoming mayor a 5.88 per cent wage increase.
The district’s remuneration bylaw states that in May of each municipal election year, an independent committee will be formed to review and provide recommendations regarding mayor and council’s wages.
This year’s remuneration committee (W. Paul Grier, Donald Smyth, and Donna Gault) were provided with data on council wages from various communities throughout B.C., ultimately agreeing that the current council’s wages are reasonable and “fell close to the mean”.
However, the committee also reviewed the federal government’s Bill C-44 legislation (which states that as of 2019, elected officials will lose their non-accountable allowances), while also analyzing the impact the new legislation would have on council’s net pay, coming to the conclusion that “the mayor’s indemnity be increased to $27,267. In addition, it is the committee’s further recommendation that, effective Jan. 1, 2019, the mayor’s indemnity be increased by a percentage equal to the B.C. Consumer Price Index for the previous year. Finally, the committee recommends that the annual indemnity for individual councillors be set at 50 per cent of the indemnity paid to the mayor, also effective Jan. 1, 2019.”
Council had three options to vote on regarding the bylaw at their last meeting in July:
1. To accept the remuneration committee’s recommendations as presented;
2. To make changes to council remuneration that is contrary to the committee’s recommendations; and
3. That council give staff further direction.
The vote on first, second and third reading of the bylaw was deadlocked three to three, with Coun. John Tidbury, Leightan Wishart and Rick Marcotte in favour of the wage increase, whereas Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt, Fred Robertson and Dennis Dugas stood firmly against it.
Bood’s argument regarding the wage increase was that if you asked anyone “to take a 5.3 per cent pay cut, no one would take that,” adding that if the bylaw doesn’t pass, the incoming mayor and council could end up taking a pay cut in 2019.
Robertson responded that as a council they should try and communicate with the federal government first, noting that a 5.88 per cent wage increase would be pushing things too far, as council has already raised taxes by 4.0 per cent this year.
Bood then cast the tie breaking vote in favour of the wage increase, pushing the remuneration bylaw towards final reading later in August.