To be competitive some senior management positions have to go up at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Directors heard Thursday that the regional district is having a hard time filling some vacant positions because wages are not competitive.
“Our manager of finance gave notice last year. We shortlisted candidates and when they found out what the wage was they all declined. It was either too little or they found other opportunities,” said Karla Kozakevich, chair of the RDOS.
Kozakevich said she’s seen what she thinks is higher than usual turnover of senior staff in the last five or six years noting the regional district has hired three different human resource managers, three manager’s of finance and three public works managers during that time.
“We need to bring some stability to the organization and to the staff here,” she said.
Currently three senior manager positions sit vacant — manager of finance, manager of public works and manager of planning and development.
Directors voted in favour of increasing wages to many of the 14 different levels of management. The total increase will be about $77,000 per year.
Recommendations regarding wage increases were developed by a sub-committee that compared salaries at the RDOS to others including several regional districts and area municipalities.
Wages for management are reviewed every three years. Suspecting an increase was due an additional $50,000 was budgeted to offset the impact.
It was found that RDOS was paying well below market.
An overview of the positions lists in numbers from one (the lowest) to 10 (the highest) with some numbers not having any representation. Wages will range from $67,162 to $149,341. There is only one position at the highest end of the scale.
Andrew Jakubeit, Mayor of Penticton and Penticton councillor Helena Konanz both voted against the raise of wages.
Jakubeit said he wanted the increase to stay within the $50,000 budgeted.
“I was more comfortable with the $50,000 than the $77,000. That way we could ease into it,” he said.
Konanz was concerned the increase would have impact on other municipalities and private business.
“All of our communities are competing with each other for staff. Why don’t we work together instead to find a way to keep costs down,” she said.
She noted wages for senior management positions were increased cumulatively by $80,000 three years ago and thought that trend would continue. She noted manager wages increase each year based on the Consumer Price Index or rate negotiated by the government and service employee union.