Smithers Town Council. At their Nov. 26 meeting the Town voted 4-2 in support of adopting a new policy on council remuneration. The new policy increases remuneration amounts to just over a 12 per cent increase for all positions on council: $3,735, $2,076 and $1862 respectively for mayor, deputy mayor and councillor. Councillors John Buikema and Lorne Benson voted against the motion. (File photo)

Smithers Town Council. At their Nov. 26 meeting the Town voted 4-2 in support of adopting a new policy on council remuneration. The new policy increases remuneration amounts to just over a 12 per cent increase for all positions on council: $3,735, $2,076 and $1862 respectively for mayor, deputy mayor and councillor. Councillors John Buikema and Lorne Benson voted against the motion. (File photo)

Smithers Town Council votes itself a pay raise

The increase amounts to just over a 12 per cent increase for mayor and councillor positions

Council is getting a pay raise — well, sort of.

At their Nov. 26 meeting the Town voted 4-2 in support of adopting a new policy on council remuneration.

Councillors John Buikema and Lorne Benson voted against the motion.

The new policy increases remuneration amounts by just over 12 per cent for all positions on council: $3,735, $2,076 and $1,862 respectively for mayor, deputy mayor and councillor.

This brings total remuneration to $32,276.00 (mayor) $17,932.00 (deputy mayor) and $16,133.00 (councillor).

The policy takes effect Jan. 1.

READ MORE: Paving budget and choices by Smithers council

In their discussion of the policy council unanimously acknowledged the awkwardness of what amounts to deliberating on how much they make in their positions.

“It’s hard to think of giving yourself a raise, especially with

somebody else’s money,” said Coun. Frank Wray, noting that the Town was in the awkward position of being forced to vote on remuneration policies that will directly affect them.

He added that traditionally council would vote on policies that would affect subsequent councils but not the ones who made the initial decision.

“This should have been done before the [municipal] election so that we didn’t have this discomfort,” said Wray.

Buikema echoed Wray’s statements.

“I was most comfortable with [the smallest increase option] just because I do have difficulty giving myself a raise,” he said.

But Buikema also acknowledged the amount of work which goes into certain municipal positions, particularly the role of mayor.

“I did reflect on how many hours the mayor seems to put into their position.”

While the new policy does technically pay councillors and the mayor more, it was done with recent changes to tax legislation in mind.

Acting mayor Gladys Atrill explained the reason it was important to address the issue is because of changes to how council is paid.

“There used to be a one-third portion of the stipend that was not taxed,” explained Atrill, who added the changes effectively meant council members are taking a pay cut.

“It’s all taxed now so without a change it actually means that councillors will earn less this year.”

READ MORE: Smithers hires new CAO

Despite awkwardness surrounding the policy, council also noted a large element of remuneration policy is centred around trying to encourage a diverse range of individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds to become involved in municipal politics.

“When I think of it holistically I think about [trying to] encourage a diverse range of people at the council table,” said Coun. Casda Thomas.

“Knowing that there’s a byelection coming up… I think we shouldn’t go backwards.”

Atrill agreed.

“Part of this corrects I think what was a mistake by the previous council … of not dealing with it.

“Councillor Thomas I think rather elegantly phrased what’s coming and we heard it actually from the citizen’s committee at the beginning of the term last council that this has to be addressed and it speaks to who might be willing to run in the future.”



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

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