Pay hikes for Sooke’s municipal politicians will now be determined by local government staff after council adopted a new remuneration policy Monday.
According to a report from the Union of B.C., a municipal staff review of council remuneration is used by 39 per cent of local governments in the province.
The move will see the mayor and councillors’ remuneration rates adjusted annually by the prior year’s inflation measured by B.C. Stats Greater Victoria Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the UBCM Council and Board Remuneration Guide.
The changes will result in a pay bump for politicians in October and Jan. 1, 2023. Council voted 6-1 in favour of the new policy. Coun. Megan McMath voted against it.
“I have mixed feelings about it. I love the idea of setting it to the CPI. It then takes the personal and political components out of it. It just becomes a formula and doesn’t become a platform,” McMath said.
Previously, the salary of the politicians had been set, in part, by looking at surrounding municipalities of similar size. Colwood, Esquimalt, North Saanich, Sidney, Central Saanich and View Royal pay their mayor and councillors more money than Sooke.
To account for Sooke being one of the fastest-growing municipalities in B.C., staff recommend remuneration be set at the 75th percentile of comparable municipalities.
Council has received three pay raises since 2019. The mayor’s salary is $31,500, with councillors earning $15,750.
Under the new policy, staff recommend a 2.5 per cent pay increase where councillors will see their salaries rise to $20,062, with the mayor set to earn $47,432. The new pay scheme will take effect in November after the municipal election.
“The real change impacts the next council,” said Mayor Maja Tait.
Couns. Tony St-Pierre and Jeff Bateman voted to implement the new policy and changes to council’s remuneration bylaw.
“Council wanted to step aside and let staff come forward with the recommendation based on best practices, what was being paid elsewhere and what was appropriate to get people to run for council,” St-Pierre said.
Added Bateman: “To attract a diversity around this table, we need to up these rates.”
Council will vote on an amended remuneration bylaw at its May 9 meeting.