No decision on politicians’ pay

North Okanagan Regional District directors need more time to consider a possible wage hike.

North Okanagan Regional District directors need more time to consider a possible wage hike.

The board received a report on remuneration from a citizens’ committee Wednesday, but no decision was made on the recommendations, which includes a two per cent increase in base pay and a five per cent increase each for the board chairperson and vice-chairperson.

“Directors will have time to think about it. We can approve it or nix it,” said chairperson Herman Halvorson.

A decision may be made in two weeks, but any potential change to remuneration would not come into effect until after the November civic elections.

“It sets the tone for January 2012 so directors then will know where they are for three years,” said Halvorson.

It’s not known if the recommendations of the committee would replace the current policy linking compensation to the consumer price index, or if it would be on top of CPI.

“If the five and two per cent are in addition to the cost of living, then it should just be the cost of living,” said director Dee Wejr.

“Things are tough out there and lots of people are not getting a wage. We’re fairly compensated.”

Presently, the chairperson earns $1,215 a month while the vice-chairperson gets $134 monthly.

Annual remuneration for electoral area directors is $18,000 and it’s $11,448 for municipal directors.

Committee member Sherry Price points out that workload, including preparation time, was considered when the committee was considering rates of pay.

“All of a sudden you are an engineer of water, sewer and waste. There’s a lot of stuff,” she said of the issues politicians must deal with.

Director Mike Macnabb believes there is a fine line between compensating elected officials fairly and spending tax dollars wisely.

“If you work it out per hour, it’s a poor wage but people around the table aren’t here for the wage,” said Macnabb.

Besides pay increases, the citizens’ committee is also recommending job descriptions for regional district directors.

“When people are looking to run (in an election), it gives them a clear idea of what’s expected,” said Price, a former NORD director and Vernon city councillor.