Next Vernon mayor pockets increase in salary

Who ever claims Vernon’s mayor chair in November’s election will get an immediate raise.

Who ever claims Vernon’s mayor chair in November’s election will get an immediate raise.

Council has approved the mayor’s remuneration going from $63,466 to $66,266 in 2012 (one-third is a tax-free allowance), while there is a scheduled increase for the six councillors in 2014.

“The work done by council has become complex and deserves to be recognized as more than community service,” said Coun. Buffy Baumbrough, who pointed out that the new rates will impact those elected Nov. 19 and not current members of council.

While the mayor’s wage will go up in 2012, there will be no increase for the mayor in 2013. For 2014, there will be a hike equivalent to the compound sum of the consumer price index over the previous four years (if CPI is two per cent each year, that would lead to an 8.2 per cent increase in salary).

“I see the work the mayor does and the abuse he takes,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy.

“He’s like the chairman of the board and he deserves more.”

For councillors, the current annual salary of $20,473 (one-third tax-free) will remain in 2012 and 2013 but there will be an increase equivalent to the compounded sum of CPI over four years in 2014.

“There is a recognition that we’re in tough economic times,” said Baumbrough of no increase for councillors for two years.

Opposition came from Coun. Bob Spiers.

“Councillors’ pay will be reduced by $800. The present formula of (linking wages) to cost of living is the way to go,” he said.

Council members are currently paid $137 for attending committee meetings and that will increase to $320 for full-day meetings and to $160 for meetings four hours or less in length.

Again, opposition came from Spiers.

“We have volunteers at committees and the only persons around the table being paid is one or two politicians,” he said, adding that is unfair towards residents who donate their time to be on a city committee.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe defends the overall increase in remuneration for council.

“We need to attract people in the workforce,” she said, adding that council duties can impact on both careers and families.

“We have the tendency to attract people who are retired. By not attracting working people, we don’t have a true inkling of what’s going on in the community.”

Coun. Shawn Lee insists council is not forcing higher wages on its successors.

“Any future council can decline it. It’s in the hands of future councils,” he said.