White Rock staff will take yet another look at what the city’s mayor should be paid, following a vote Monday to adopt increases to councillors’ remuneration.
But the new review was not the outcome Coun. Helen Fathers had intended when she suggested prior to the vote – and received support for – removing a recommended increase to the mayor’s pay from the equation.
The amended policy had called for councillors’ annual stipend to climb by about $3,100 to $29,700 (from $26,580), effective Jan. 1, 2015, and for the mayor’s earnings to jump to $79,140 (from $59,810).
“My intention was to pull it out so it would just stay the same that it now is,” Fathers told her peers, during discussion of a subsequent motion by Coun. Larry Robinson to have staff re-review the mayor’s pay.
Robinson reasoned the re-look was necessary to ensure the mayor’s earnings reflect the reality of what the position entails.
“The duties of the mayor, even in White Rock, are getting pretty close to a full-time job now,” he said. “We should really be looking at what’s expected of the mayor in White Rock. I know from previous mayors it’s a lot of work.”
Fathers, along with Couns. Grant Meyer and Louise Hutchinson, all opposed the new review; only Meyer and Hutchinson opposed the policy changes as a whole.
They came about as a result of a request to staff last March by council members meeting as the governance and legislation committee. The review determined the politicians were not adequately paid compared to their peers in similar-sized communities, and staff recommended the discrepancy be addressed by basing the calculation on the average paid in Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Langley City.
That calculation would have boosted the councillors’ pay by about $630 per year, and the mayor’s by just over $12,600.
Last month, the committee opted instead to endorse a calculation that also included figures from the North Shore and Port Coquitlam, which led to the bigger boost.
Baldwin said at that time that while he agrees council pay needs to catch up with similar-sized communities, he did not support the degree of increase backed by most of his peers.
Monday, Baldwin reiterated his stand. Approving the higher remuneration will lead to a circle of escalating pay to politicians when officials in other cities embarking on similar reviews look to White Rock, he said.
“It has the unintended consequence of probably helping to ratchet up (those amounts),” Baldwin said. “I don’t like that particular unintended consequence.”
In reviewing the process that led to staff’s recommendation, city manager Dan Bottrill noted the seemingly significant boost suggested for the mayor “shouldn’t colour the decision on whether it is appropriate.”
Bottrill told Peace Arch News Tuesday that the nearly $13,000 difference discovered between the mayor’s pay in White Rock and the average of that paid in Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and the City of Langley was too significant to ignore.
Also noteworthy was the fact councillors’ pay was “pretty much spot-on” with peers in those same three cities, but “the committee chose a different path,” Bottrill said.
“The committee is entitled to do that. Ultimately, council accepted the six and removed the mayor.”
Prior to Monday’s vote, Hutchinson noted council members are not receiving a salary.
“We are not paid employees,” she said. “We have indemnities.”
Bottrill told PAN he expects a report on the mayor’s remuneration review to be ready for the Nov. 18 council meeting.