Salaries of elected officials cause ripple through council

·3 min read

A move to tie a review of council wages to what city staff was making could occur later this year but before the October municipal election.

Coun. Keith Page proposed looking outside of the box city staff normally did — comparing to eight other similar municipalities — when framing the policy review of council remuneration.

He felt that, instead the city should instead be looking at its own relationship between remuneration for elected officials and the ratio to what its city staff were earning.

“I’m not suggesting we increase or decrease, I’m simply suggesting that instead of us pegging ourselves to a group of municipalities … that we instead take where we are now and peg ourselves to our own payroll,” her said.

City manager Kevin Cormack said the city already does peg itself to the same municipalities for staff wages. The proposed council remuneration policy includes a methodology similar to the one used in reviewing and setting exempt staff compensation, noted city deputy corporate officer Gabriel Bouvert-Boisclair in his report to council.

“It would provide an objective and transparent approach to reviewing council’s remuneration, and would likely be more efficient than relying on an appointed committee,” he wrote.

“Staff would apply the methodology and then make a recommendation for council’s remuneration along with the supporting information.”

Council would then be able to consider and discuss the recommendation and make further adjustments as it deems necessary.

But Coun. Page raised a really good point, said Mayor John Dooley. And, with the review of the incoming council wage not part of the Community Charter, the review and the comparison to other municipalities was not required.

“I’m not sure we are actually getting fair feedback by going out to the municipalities that we traditionally go to,” said Dooley. “I know that you probably think that you are.

“The stipend is getting to the point that maybe there should be a conversation around the rate of inflation, moving forward.”

Since Jan. 21, 2019, Nelson’s mayor makes $59,500 while city councillors each take a share of $25,000 per year.

Cormack said the remuneration review had two components — indemnity review policy and the indemnity policy. During council’s term there is some consideration for the rate of inflation.

“And then at the end of every term of council we ask are we still in the right place,” Cormack pointed out. “If there was a big anomaly there we would obviously know something is wrong here.”

The previous policy was repealed and replaced with a new one, pending a review.

The review process is a regular thing for Nelson municipal government. At the end of each council term — and in advance of the general municipal election — council reviews its remuneration.

Follow the money

Council currently has two policies regarding its remuneration.

The Council Indemnity Review Policy sets out the procedure through which council’s remuneration is reviewed each term — which is done during the election year in advance of the election.

The Council Indemnity Policy sets the remuneration.

The current Indemnity Review Policy provides that a review committee is to be established by council and composed of three to five Nelson residents. The review committee then makes recommendations to council in the election year and council can decide whether to adopt the recommendations, modify them, or reject them altogether.

“The goal of this review process is to provide an independent and unbiased basis for setting council’s remuneration,” noted Bouvet-Boisclair in his report to council.

In previous years the review policy resulted in recommendations from the review committee that council found lacking or incomplete, he added.

Source: City of Nelson agenda

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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