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Case made for political pay raise

Vernon’s mayor believes civic leaders should be paid more in the future.

The City of Vernon’s 2013 annual report shows that Mayor Rob Sawatzky had a salary of $63,466 while the base salary for each councillor was $20,474.

“I would like to see it higher,” said Sawatzky.

For Sawatzky, the current remuneration could be a stumbling block for recruiting members of the community to put careers and families aside and run for council.

“It will allow you to select from a larger pool of people. Right now, you select from a pool of people where money doesn’t matter,” he said of retirees or business owners.

However, Sawatzky admits there are challenges related to increasing council salaries and the primary one is the burden on taxpayers.

“Vernon is big enough that there’s a lot of work for mayor and council but it’s a size of community that can’t easily pay more,” he said.

Councillors can also submit for meeting pay and that led Coun. Juliette Cunningham having a total remuneration of $22,940 and Coun. Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe at $21,981. Councillors Catherine Lord, Patrick Nicol, Bob Spiers and Brian Quiring all receive the base salary of $20,474.

Salaries for mayor and council are one-third tax-free.

It was decided earlier this year that a committee of three residents would be formed to review remuneration and report back to council in September. Any changes in salary will be initiated after the November municipal election.

The city’s 2013 annual report indicates that the seven members of council had a total of $13,356 in expenses.

Leading the pack was Lord with $5,244.

“There were two years of receipts for the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference because I didn’t file for 2012 until the beginning of 2013,” she said.

Sawatzky had expenses of $3,315 for 2013, while Cunningham’s expenses were $3,223.

O’Keefe submitted for $889 in expenses, while there was $687 for Quiring and no expenses were filed by Spiers and Nicol.

The annual report will be the focus of a public input session July 14 at 4:30 p.m. at city hall.

 

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