Fernie city councillors and mayor will be receiving more money for their duties come July. The Council voted in favour of increasing their stipends, which would be included in the 2016-2020 Financial Plan, at a Special Budget Meeting of Council on Feb. 29.
Currently, councillors receive $12,000 for the council duties while the mayor receives $20,000 per annum. This is in line with the Council Remuneration and Expense Repeal Bylaw, which was enacted in May 2007. Under the new stipulations, councillors will receive $18,000 per annum, which is a 50 per cent pay increase. The mayor will receive a $16,000 pay increase, bringing the total wages for the mayor’s seat to $36,000. This equates to an 80 per cent pay increase. Council has not altered this bylaw since 2007.
One of the aims increasing the remuneration for council is to ensure that “no person is dissuaded from running for office because they cannot afford to.” This is described in a Jan. 21 Staff Report given by City of Fernie’s Director of Financial and Computer Services, Carla Fox.
“It is also recognized that some Elected Officials must take time away from their work and may suffer a reduction in pay, and also some must make arrangements for child care, which should be considered by the remuneration package,” read the report.
The increase will make council’s total wages $144,000 per annum instead of the current $92,000 per year. Currently, the Mayor is paid $4.50 per resident of Fernie while the each councillor is paid $2.70. With the increase, the mayor will be paid $8.09 per resident and each councillor will receive $4.05 per resident.
In comparison, Sparwood’s mayor receives $33,750 per year, which equates to $9.33 per resident while their councillors earn $14,499, which is equivalent to $4.01 per capita.
Elkford is just slightly below on a per capita comparison. Their Mayor earns $19,315, equaling $7.84 per capita. The council members receive $8,995 per annum, which results in $3.65 per capita.
While Council has voted in favour of the remuneration and it is incorporated into the 2016-2020 Financial Plan, they would only receive half of the increased stipend this year. Council and Mayor will receive the full amount of 2017. Under the new remuneration package, mayor and Council will receive a two per cent increase each year from 2017 to 2020 in relation to the consumer price index and to adjust for inflation. The report also reads that the “increase would need to be funded by a taxation increase or a decrease to another expenditure.”