A new West Kelowna council will get a pay raise in 2023.
At its June 14 meeting, the current council endorsed a report by a panel of citizens which recommended the increases. Starting Jan. 1, 2023 the mayor’s position will pay $88,240, up from $76,203, and councillors will receive $30,884, up from $25,439. Municipal elections will be held Oct. 15.
Councillor Jayson Zilkie said he spoke to several people at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Regina about pay for councils.
“They said they want to attract really good leaders, we want to attract people who can do this full time.”
As part of its research, the panel considered the salaries of councils in similar-sized B.C. cities, including Penticton and Vernon. Several councillors said they felt the mayor’s salary in particular has been too low.
“I thought that our mayor here has been underpaid for a number of years,” said Coun. Jason Friesen. “Honestly, I think the car allowance is too low, it’s a full-time job. Full-time employees often have a full-paid vehicle. I’m not sure why this would be that much different.”
The panel recommended the mayor receive a vehicle allowance of $372.50 per month. Optional extended health, dental, and employee family assistance benefits should also be offered, according to the report. The city would cover 100 per cent of the monthly premium for the mayor’s position and 50 per cent for councillors. Councillor Doug Findlater disagreed.
“While we should be compensated I do not understand why we have to have employer-funded benefits for people, I think you go out and get that yourself,” said Findlater.
He also disagreed with “so-called employer city taxpayer-funded pension plans” for mayors and councillors.
“I’m very reluctant to support this simply because of that.”
Council voted unanimously to have staff draft changes to the remuneration bylaw as recommended by the panel.