Full time mayor proposal defeated by Terrace council

Opposing councillors worried about tax implications

TERRACE city council, in a 5-2 vote, has decided against pursuing the idea of paying the mayor a full time wage.

Mayor David Pernarowski had called the issue to motion in an April 28 council meeting and it was back on the agenda last night.

A task force is already formed that will review compensation of both mayor and council, however Pernarowski had moved to have this task force or another one look at paying the mayor enough that he would be able to do the job full-time.

“This has nothing to do with my aspirations,” said Pernarowksi, who has already decided against running again for what would have been a third term.

There was some spirited debate around the topic, but ultimately councilors came up with too many reasons why not to strike a special task force.

Councilor Bruce Bidgood said he thought a much more clear statement was needed from Pernarowski over exactly what taxpayers would receive if the mayor was paid more.

“We have no quantification of what the current position involves. I think due diligence would dictate that we should know what it is we are proposing to buy. If you asked me to buy sugar and I said ‘how much’ and you said ‘lots’, for me to jump in and offer you money wouldn’t be a good idea,” said Bidgood.

In response, Pernarowski said he could provide documentation to show how much he works. He said it was a great challenge advancing his career while being mayor because the booming business in the region is forcing attention to a multitude of issues both economic and social.

Councillor Marylin Davies said she thought having the question on the ballot in the fall local government elections would be a better way to decide the issue.

She said she agreed the mayor should be paid more, and that reducing the money allotted to the Terrace Economic Development Authority might be the best way to free up money to pay council more.

Councillor James Cordeiro and Stacey Tyers rejected the original term of “full-time mayor” with regards to what the position might become, arguing that people who hold the mayor position choose the amount of time they put into it.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen said it would simply cost too much to have a fully remunerated mayor, and that a few years ago a similar review had already decided that the position should not be full-time. “It would mean a tax increase,” she said.

With regards to the tax increase Pernarowski said that the new revenues he foresees being generated at the Skeena Industrial Development park would cover the expense of a fully compensated mayor.

Councillor Brian Downie said he agreed with having a task force investigate the possibilities of a full time or fully compensated position.

“We need a regular presence in Victoria,” he said, adding that a mayor working longer hours could enhance the city’s communication strategies.

In the end Downie and Pernarowski were the only members to vote in favour of the motion to advance the idea.

The mayor’s job now pays $34,002 and each member of council receives $12,121 this year. One-third of the remuneration is tax-free.