Mayor John Vassilaki started the conversation about reviewing city council’s pay package by trying to get extended health and dental benefits removed from a proposed review.
“Would it be possible to exlcude the extended health and dental benefits and we vote on that tonight?” asked Vassilaki.
Later, he said he wanted to “eliminate it altogether” from the discussion.
Things have changed since council pay was last looked at, in 2002, including the federal government eliminating the one-third tax exemption enjoyed by elected officials, a move that takes effect next year.
Coun. Julius Bloomfield had his own modifications to the review, wanting to delay it entirely.
“I would be quite prepared to wait until later on in the year than March for their review. I would like to have the opportunity to give some results before they review our pay,” said Bloomfield.
Neither idea got support from other councillors.
“We are not voting to have the benefits, we are voting for someone to review them,” said Coun. Campbell Watt, suggesting that they could vote to delay any recommendations from the review until the next council. “All three are a potential package offered to the next council.”
Coun. Katie Robinson felt it was important to address the loss of the one-third tax exemption loss.
“The compensation review I could do without, but I could see it in the future, for a future council. When I ran for office, I knew what we were going to get paid,” said Robinson.”I don’t think any of us are looking for an increase in pay, certainly, nobody signed up for a decrease, which that (tax exemption loss) would be if we don’t addresss it.”
The current pay levels were established 16 years ago, along with linking a yearly increase to council salaries linked to the Consumer Price Index. Meal and mileage per diems were also established in 2002 and have not been reviewed or adjusted.
After voting down Vassilaki and Bloomfield’s amendments, council voted unanimously to approve the External Compensation Advisory Task Force, which will be made up of four independent individuals who have will be made up of four independent individuals who have experience in business leadership, remuneration development or other similar experience and skills.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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