The board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District has decided to postpone discussions around a pay raise for nine of its directors until the 2021 budget process.
At its meeting on May 15, the board decided that, mainly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the financial crisis that many people in the district are facing as a result, the proposal for an increase in pay of $11,167 per year for the directors of the CVRD’s electoral areas be shelved for the time being.
“Why this board is considering this now is beyond me, even regardless of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mike Wilson, director for Cobble Hill.
“The council in North Cowichan has agreed to take a 10 per cent pay cut for the year due to this crisis, and I’m sure councillors in the Capital Regional District have also taken a pay cut.”
Aaron Stone, chairman of the board and mayor of Ladysmith, said the board had an obligation to bring the issue up at the table at this time because it had passed a resolution at a previous meeting to do so.
At the board meeting on March 25, the district’s director services select committee recommended that remuneration for the representatives from the nine electoral areas be increased by $11,167 as of April 1, 2020.
Remuneration for the electoral area directors is currently $33,795 a year.
But a lengthy discussion among board members at the time indicated that many felt it was bad timing to be discussing pay raises during the instability created by the COVID-19 crisis, and a decision was made to postpone the discussion for 30 days.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said at the meeting on May 15 that there is a case to be made for a discussion around a pay increase for the electoral area directors, but this is not the right time for it, even after the 30 days had ended.
“I think the issue should be reconsidered when we have a better picture of the impacts of COVID-19 on the budget, so I’d prefer that it be referred to the 2021 budget process,” he said.
Tim McGonigle, director for the Town of Lake Cowichan, thanked the CVRD’s director services select committee for their work on determining remuneration for the directors.
“The directors of the electoral areas are more taxed with burdens than municipal councillors and they are currently under compensated,” he said.
“But it’s an inopportune time to move forward with this. What’s needed is an independent and arms-length review of remuneration from outside this board.”
Lynne Smith, director for Saltair/Gulf Islands, said she and other directors didn’t run for their positions based on the pay, but for the good of their communities.
“The taxpayers know how hard we work, but the decision to postpone this for now is best at this time, and I look forward to discussions about in the fall,” she said.