City taxpayers could face a tax increase of just under 2.5 per cent to finance salary increases of nearly $370,000 for City of Terrace managers and other non-unionized employees next year.
Just under $94,000 would cover a three per cent wage bump for 2023 but $275,889 in recommended increases stems from a salary review commissioned by city council earlier this year.
The review, which compared salaries at nine other local governments in B.C., follows worries that the city isn’t competitive in keeping the senior and union-exempt employees it has now, or won’t be able to fill vacancies when they arise.
“Regionally, the public sector is competing with industry in wages and other employee perks, like flexible scheduling, work from home models, etc.,” city manager Kris Boland wrote in a memo to city council recommending the city raise salaries as outlined in the review.
“The city is not alone in their challenges to recruit and retain a dedicated workforce; this is a challenge that is being seen both regionally and across the country.”
Taken together, with other recommended tax increases amounting to 8.19 per cent for city services and replacing aging infrastructure, Terrace taxpayers could face a total increase of just under 10.5 per cent in 2023, the highest annual increase by far on record.
The review compared 19 city positions with equivalent ones in local governments as close as the Kitimat-Stikine regional district, Kitimat and Prince Rupert and as far away as Dawson Creek and Summerland to establish minimum, median and maximum salary ranges.
Boland noted that two of the 19 positions have salaries at more than what the review found in other places while the remaining salaries range from 82 per cent to 99 per cent of those at other locations.
But he warned council that the pay levels for those 19 councils weren’t placed within the eight pay levels the review recommended for senior staffers and union-exempt workers.
Those pay levels range from city manager to directors or department heads down to jobs called professional support. City staffers are recommending council set rates at the maximum rate as outlined in the review.
For Boland’s position that maximum rate would amount to $189,000, more than the $162,600 earned in 2021. His salary increased by two per cent in 2022 and will rise again by three per cent in 2023 regardless.
Department directors now earn in the $125,000 range and those salaries would increase to $142,000 based on review recommendations.
The review also recommended performance bonus packages called merit maximums of five to 10 per cent, something not wholly agreed to in Boland’s memo.
“Staff are not recommending merit maximums be accounted for in the budget, rather they are to be considered on an exception basis by chief administrative officer and human resources manager,” the memo indicated.
While the three per cent increase for 2023 and the increases based on the salary review are recommended as of Jan. 1, 2023, council has yet to finalize the city’s 2023 budget and its 2023-2027 five-year financial plan.
Once the budget and five-year plan are finalized and council decides on salary levels, they’ll be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023.