Council meeting pay frozen

City council decided Monday to keep the pay for meetings four hours or less in length at $137

Vernon politicians are having their meeting stipend frozen.

In a 4-2 vote, current city council decided Monday to keep the pay for meetings four hours or less in length at $137 for the next four years instead of raising it to $160.

“Many of us have not actually claimed it,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

Coun. Bob Spiers moved to stall an increase because he knew he would not get support for his preferred option, which is scrapping meeting pay altogether.

“I don’t believe in committee pay,” he said.

“There are (community) volunteers sitting around there and the only one paid is a councillor. It’s not correct.”

Voting against freezing meeting pay for four years were Mayor Rob Sawatzky and Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

“If we can remove financial barriers to a wide variety of people to run, that’s beneficial,” said Sawatzky, who insists that current compensation is an impediment for some residents to seek elected office.

Sawatzky is also concerned that current council’s policy ties the hand of subsequent politicians, but Lord downplays that possibility.

“A future council can change it,” she said.

Members of council had approved the meeting pay increase to $160 for meetings less than four hours in length in 2011.

“By resolution during the budget process in January 2012 and subsequently in 2013 and 2014, the approved increase to $160 was deferred for a year,” said Will Pearce, chief administrative officer.

“Thus the recommendation in the administration report (Monday) to initiate the meeting pay in accordance with the approved rate, $160 for meetings less than four hours, effective Jan. 1, 2015 is compliant with council direction.”