Nanaimo Council and pay increases across Canada

In the last few months municipal councils across Canada, including Nanaimo Council, have voted themselves pay increases.  Here are some pay increases councillors have approved for themselves in the last month:

  • Hamilton, ON 1.5%
  • Halifax, NS 13%
  • Vancouver, BC 12.6%
  • New Westminster, BC 8.9%
  • Fernie, BC 50%

Moncton city council had planned to approve a 25% increase for the deputy mayor and 16% increase for councillors, but it was voted down just one week before city voters head to the polls.

Halifax councillors’ pay rose by 13% and the mayor’s salary rose by 17%, meanwhile the average taxpayer in Halifax had a wage increase of 0.6%.

Nanaimo Councillors approve 3.35% increase to their base pay

At the Nanaimo Council meeting on Monday May 2, 2016 councillors voted to give themselves a raise. Each councillor will get a 3.35% increase to their base pay.  Those voting in favour were Councillors Hong, Yoachim, Bestwick, Pratt, Thorpe and Kipp. Opposed were Councillors Brennan and Fuller.  Mayor McKay was absent.

How did this come about?  Mayor McKay and the City Manager apparently do not get along so the Acting Mayor has to be present when the Mayor and City Manager meet. Each Councillor performs the role of Acting Mayor for six weeks per year on a rotational basis. The result is more work for the councillors, so they want more money.

Council set the Acting Mayor pay rate at 10% of the Mayor’s base compensation. This will require a budget allocation of $9,510 per year.

It has been mentioned at council meetings that the Mayor has a terrible attendance record and misses many meetings and frequently leaves early. At the beginning of their term Mayor McKay wanted to delegate his role. Councillor Fuller objected and said that McKay should have known what was involved in being a mayor when he ran for the job.

At the last council meeting it was suggested by a delegate that the Mayor’s salary be reduced by the amount of the councillors’ raise. No one considered this.

Nanaimo Council Travel expenses

On Monday night Councillor Bestwick introduced a motion on conference spending which was passed. Councillor Hong raised a motion at the beginning of the meeting to postpone the discussion about conference spending so that Mayor McKay could take part in the discussion at a later date.  Bestwick disagreed and said McKay could have talked to him prior to the meeting but he didn’t. Hong withdrew his motion and Council passed Bestwick’s motion. Here is the motion:

The Council Spending and Amenities Policy will have each Councillor allocated up to $1,000 for travel, hospitality and conference activities directly related to City business and the office of a Council member.

Councillors will be entitled up to:

  • $3,000 to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference
  • $2,500 to attend the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) annual conference
  • $1,000 to attend the Vancouver Island Conference
  • $1,000 Coastal Communities annual conference

Council members must deliver a report on their conference and travel activities for City business.

How many councillors go to these meetings? Do they all have to go? If everyone goes to the FCM in Winnipeg in June (a four day conference) then it will cost at least $30,000. What kind of report will we get for that?

Taxes going up

The 0% property tax increase does not include fee increases. This year alone there will be a 12.5% increase in user fees.

Operating spending for most municipalities has been racing ahead of population and inflation growth year after year.

The population of BC grew by 15% between 2000 and 2012, yet inflation-adjusted municipal operating spending increased by 55% over the same time period.

Most municipal councillors refuse to acknowledge the overspending problem in contracts and consulting. Nanaimo is spending $250,000 on a consultant to find ways the City can save money while at the same time councillors are giving themselves a raise. These same councillors are oblivious to Canadian political affairs, like what is TPP?