Terrace city council has voted to increase the salaries for councillors by $3,000 beginning in 2023 based on the recommendation of a remuneration task force.
By city policy, an independent remuneration task force is named every four years prior to each municipal election and its recommendations are then considered by council. The policy is such that the current council does not make a decision affecting their salaries but on salaries for the council that will be elected.
With this year being an election year, voters will go to the polls in October.
The task force based its recommendation on an analysis of what comparable communities pay their council members.
In 2022 city councillors in Terrace made $18,607. Other than cost of living increases the mayor’s salary of $45,816 is not increasing. The above salaries will be in place for the next for years until another remuneration task force is struck.
City corporate administrator Alisa Thompson, in briefing council on the task force’s work, said increasing salaries opens doors for more people to run for council.
“I appreciate how careful council is with city money and trying to be as prudent as possible when it comes to spending, but another consideration is the ability for a person to serve on council,” Thompson said.
“If the remuneration rate is set so low you could end up with a council that’s made up of people who are retired, or wealthy, or have the ability to take copious amounts of time off work — and that may not be representative of the community.”
Coun. James Cordeiro called that a “flawed rationale” arguing other factors like loss of opportunities at a regular job while serving on council would make the increase negligible for middle income earners.
He argued that someone working a minimum wage job would, for example, gain just $1,000 per year if they spent 20 hours a week at their job and 20 hours a week on council business.
“The people that you’re impacting really, from what I can see, is the young professional type crowd and the amount of this increase does nothing to actually address that problem because it’s nowhere near the amount necessary,” Cordeiro said.
“I think if the rationale is that it’s precluding people from running for council, this doesn’t actually address that issue.”
Coun. Dave Gordon argued the increase could offset the cost of childcare.
“Counter to Coun. Cordeiro’s argument I have been speaking with people who are interested in running for council and they’ve told me that the money is a motivating factor — that the change in remuneration would approximately pay for the babysitting for one year of council meetings,” Gordon said.
“I think even though we can’t quite meet where those young professionals would be paid or what their lost opportunities are, we can start in that direction.”
Mayor Carol Leclerc was asked by Coun. Cordeiro if it’s a “fair assessment” that the position of mayor is a part-time job — and if that was a factor in not increasing mayoral salary.
“I think that if I were to ramp up what I was doing it would impact staff and our staff is at capacity,” Leclerc said.
“It would not be fair to staff and I would hope that the next mayor that comes in keeps that in mind. If you’re going to do more work and create more work, who’s going to do the work?”
The policy was accepted by council at its May 24 meeting.
Do you have a comment about this story? email: