White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin is right when he suggests contemplating an increase in council remuneration is a touchy subject.
Baldwin served as city manager for many years before retiring and, subsequently, being voted into the mayor’s chair. He knows from experience the public has a limited tolerance for guardians of the public purse setting their own salaries – particularly when there is any talk of an increase.
It’s likely most of the electorate wouldn’t object to the current staff review of the going rate of compensation for elected officials, particularly if, as council has agreed and directed, the communities selected for comparison are similar in size to White Rock.
If findings hold true to 2010 figures, compensation for serving White Rock’s 20,000 residents sits somewhere in a middle range between comparable communities Langley City, serving 25,000, and Port Moody, serving 34,000.
What some White Rock politicians seem to be losing sight of is the fact that standing for office and being elected is a matter of community service, first and foremost. Compensation must be just what the word suggests – a partial recompense for the altruistic sacrifice of representing your fellow citizens.
Coun. Helen Fathers thinks council’s compensation should be raised to 60 per cent of the average estimated earnings in the city, because this would be more reflective of the amount of hours she puts in for the city.
Without denigrating Fathers’ work on behalf of the community – indeed the second-term councillor’s efforts are more visible than most – any one of us can put in any number of extra hours beyond what our job specifies; but if some compensation for those hours has not been negotiated and agreed upon, our employer can be forgiven for considering it “volunteered” time.
And Coun. Larry Robinson has the cart before the horse when he says that pegging a politicians’ compensation at 40 per cent of earnings in the city “means there’s not going to be much of an incentive to run for council.”
The incentive, surely – and the reason nine candidates battled for the most recently available single seat on council in last fall’s byelection – is having a vision for the future of White Rock and a willingness to work for it in spite of personal cost.