The Sparwood district council has approved a pay-rise for itself.
Councillors voted 4-2 on September 6 to approve an increase in pay for councillors and the mayor, who will now receive an annual paycheck $20,000 and $45,000 respectively.
Previously, councillors early $16,320 per year, while the mayor earned $37,780.
During discussion, Councillor Brad Bowen pushed back on the raise, saying that while he supported the B.C.-wide practice of mayors getting paid on average twice as much as councillors, the raise suggested was too much.
“I believe that $40,000 and $20,000 would be more suitable. I think $45,000 is excessive, as the mayor does gets $20,000 in remuneration through the regional district. I’ll probably be voting against this,” he said.
Other councillors disagreed, with Councillor Amy Cardozo saying a bump in pay was akin to catching up with other municipalities after Sparwood held off on increases in years past, while Councillor Jason Christensen said the increase allowed elected officials to make up lost wages after changes to taxes for public servants reduced their tax return.
“It puts us back into a reasonable area,” said Christensen.
Mayor David Wilks gave broad stroke estimates of how much work he put in as a mayor, and as a Regional District director, noting much of his time is unpaid.
“I guess the adage could be we all knew what we signed up for when we came here, but at the end of the day I didn’t come here to do it for free,” he said.
Wilks had previously made an impassioned argument for higher wages for local politicians when the item came to the committee of the whole back in early August, saying that he and council should be paid ‘what we’re worth’, in response to a community work recommendation to limit wage increases to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
The motion to increase mayor and council wages to $45,000 and $20,000 respectively was passed, 4-2, with Mayor David Wilks and Councillors Joe Jarina, Amy Cardozo and Jason Christensen for, and Councillors Sonny Saad and Brad Bowen against.
The increase will apply to the 2023 financial year, with increases beyond limited to increases by 2.5 percent annually.
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