Terrace mayor gets pay boost

TERRACE'S part-time mayor is getting a raise worth $5,000 over the next three years, city council decided in a 3-2 vote last night.

TERRACE’S part-time mayor is getting a raise worth $5,000 over the next three years, city council decided in a 3-2 vote last night.

The job now pays $27,670 a year but will rise to more than $32,600 after raises of six per cent in year one and five per cent in years two and three of a package submitted for approval by a council-appointed task force.

Councillors Brian Downie, Brad Pollard and Carol Leclerc voted in favour of increasing the mayor’s pay while councillors Bruce Bidgood and Lynne Christiansen voted against it.

The task force was created after council discussions over the summer where it was noted the mayor’s pay is low compared to other B.C. municipalities of similar size.

“We started of this on the premise that the mayor of the city of Terrace should be paid more,” said Downie at the meeting. “The perception was that we are dramatically under [paying] the mayor.”

Communities with similar populations and revenues were looked at by the task force and it was decided that its recommendation be based on affordability rather than size.

The recommendation was put forward as a motion, but before it was passed council debated it.

Bidgood was against it.

“I would prefer to see no increase whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t think it sends a good message prior to the election or to a community who’s been asking us to tighten our boots for a long time.”

Bidgood said he agreed with Christiansen that Terrace is getting good service already for the money it pays, and that the matter would be better to wait until more money was made by the city.

“We need to look at what we can afford,” said Christiansen.

But Downie said the task force was designed to look at what Terrace can afford based on economics and he thinks affordability is not an issue.

Pollard agreed.

“I think the group has done the best possible job they have based on the two main indicators which are the population and the tax base,” he said, continuing that he might restructure the way the pay increase is phased in to increase by percentage each year to reflect revenues predicted to increase with economic activity.

Leclerc suggested a smaller increase perhaps but said she would be in favour of an increase regardless.

Downie suggested the city pay the whole increase in the first year.

“This is a matter of fairness,” he said.

Before the discussion and subsequent vote , mayor Dave Pernarowski and councillor Bruce Martindale left the room to avoid conflict of interest as they are both running for the mayor’s position in the upcoming election.

The proposed pay increase to about $33,000 reflects closely Parksville’s part-time mayor who will be paid $33,300 this year.

Even still, when compared to neighbouring towns the mayor’s pay will still be at the low end of the scale after the increase.

The mayor’s pay is set to be re-examined by council in three years time.

The idea of a pay increase first surfaced when the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce began promoting the idea of having a full time mayor. That idea was not taken up and council then decided it would examine the current mayoral salary.

Downie, Bidgood and Christiansen are running for re-election while Pollard and Leclerc are not.