Ladysmith council has voted for a pay raise to be staggered over the next three years.
The increase will mean by Jan. 1, 2014, the Mayor of Ladysmith will be making $24,172 per year and councillors will be making $12,470 per year.
The increase comes after a panel of three community members — Rollie Rose, former mayor, Peter Richmond, business owner, and Niomi Pearson, local reporter — were assigned to look at council pay and how it compares to similar municipalities across B.C. The average figures were taken from the UBCM databank.
Coun. Bruce Whittington asked what impact the increase will have on the average household. City Manager Ruth Malli said the increases will amount to $1.24 per household in the first year.
Whittington also asked if the communities evaluated were up to date, or if the town is playing catch up to other towns also trying to catch up. He was told the statistics were pulled from the UBCM bank and is current, but it is hard to tell if other councils are looking at pay increases.
Whittington brought up the subject of council pay back in July, noting it is a hard subject to talk about and added no council wants to be seen as giving themselves a raise.
That is why he wanted it done now to take effect for the next council, that will be voted in on November 19.
The panel pointed out that the last review of pay was in 2004 and since that time, Ladysmith council has fallen behind on remuneration and an adjustment was in order.
The town has grown around 16 per cent in population since the last review.
A phased increase over the next few years was recommended given the current economic conditions.
The committee also reviewed the deputy mayor pay and meal allowance and recommended they not be changed.
The changes were arrived at by averaging 22 municipalities around the same population, throwing out the top and bottom spots.
The average for a mayor in a town of a population between around 4,200 and 9,600 was found to be $24,338 and for councillors, $12,443.
Currently, the mayor makes $20,677 and councillors $9,466.
The phasing approach means that as of Jan. 1, 2012, the mayor will receive $21,842 and councillors $10,467; in 2013, the mayor will receive $23,007 and councillors $11,468; and in 2014 the mayor will make $24,172 and councillors $12,470.
Coun. Duck Paterson, also noted how tough it is to say ‘I’m going to give myself a raise,’ especially when it’s other people’s money.
“There’s a lot of hours and if we’re looking for people to commit to it that want to take the time and it’s not a paying job. Nowadays, you have to have an incentive.”
Paterson said he is glad to see the increase spread out over a few years.
All councillors voted in favour of the raise and Coun. Scott Bastian was not present.