Council chambers at White Rock city hall.

Council chambers at White Rock city hall.

White Rock politicians endorse bigger pay boost

White Rock mayor votes against proposed ‘out of whack’ salary, as city staff advise smaller raises.

If the majority of White Rock council members have their way, the city’s mayor will earn nearly a third more after the next election.

But while Mayor Wayne Baldwin said he agrees present council pay needs to catch up with that of similar-sized communities, he does not support the degree of bump favoured Monday by most of his peers.

“It doesn’t make that much difference for the councillors, but it sure makes a difference for the mayor,” Baldwin said, before voting against calculating civic politicians’ pay by averaging that given to elected officials in Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, Langley City, West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam.

“(It’s) out of whack.”

The proposal was voted on by council members meeting as the governance and legislation committee. It was the higher of two options put forward by staff following a remuneration review that was requested by the committee last March.

If approved at the Nov. 4 council meeting, the mayor’s pay would jump by approximately $20,000 (to nearly $80,000 per year) as of Jan. 1, 2015; councillors’ annual pay would be about $3,500 higher. They currently receive $26,580.

Staff said the review determined the politicians were not adequately paid compared to their peers in similar-sized communities, but recommended the calculation be based on the average of three municipalities – Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Langley City.

Instead, by a vote of 4-2, council members backed the figures that included the North Shore and Port Coquitlam.

Calculations using just the three smaller cities would have bumped the mayor’s pay to $72,240 (from $59,810) and councillors’ pay to $27,210 (from $26,580).

While staff recommended the advised wage be approved to take effect immediately, Baldwin argued that it should be delayed until after the 2014 fall election.

Coun. Larry Robinson noted the message he received in discussing the issue with councillors outside of White Rock is to not think of the money as a paycheque.

“Forget remuneration, forget about making a wage. You’re doing public service for a stipend,” Robinson said he was told.

“That’s the reality. When you run for council, you are volunteering to take three years of your life and devote it to the city. The appetite of the public to pay elected officials is just about zero.”

Coun. Al Campbell said the remuneration “probably” should be more than now, given the amount and calibre of work required of council. He agreed any increase should not take effect during the current council’s term.

In discussing the issue, Baldwin noted the current remuneration formula – which pays the mayor 90 per cent of the average earnings in White Rock and councillors 40 per cent – uses information that is no longer reliable due to changes in census reporting requirements.

“The numbers of people needed to make it statistically valid are not there,” he said of the voluntary earnings disclosure.

A motion by Robinson for council to consider the higher increase carried, with Couns. Helen Fathers, Bill Lawrence, Robinson and Campbell  in favour, and Baldwin and Coun. Grant Meyer against. Coun. Louise Hutchinson was absent.