Foxes guarding henhouses always come to mind whenever you talk about elected officials and their pay packages.
It’s not their fault, but whenever you put someone in charge of deciding how much they are going to be paid, there is always the possibility for the privilege to be abused.
Penticton is taking the step of delegating the job of reviewing council bay and benefits to an “external” advisory task force. That’s some reassurance for the public but the task force, if it happens, is to be made up of “four independent and qualified individuals,” with experience in business leadership, etc.
In a city the size of Penticton, it’s going to be hard to find four individuals that don’t already have strong connections to one or more members of city council. Many of them are successful businesspeople themselves, and all have wide connections to the community.
No doubt, qualified people will be found, but no matter how fair a job they do, it will always be questioned by some. And then we have the problem of their recommendations having to be approved by the very council members it will affect.
It would be hard to imagine any council voting against a substantial pay increase or voting for one that reduces their pay.
There is no doubt our elected officials deserve to be paid for their work; the time they devote to it represents time they are giving up from other pursuits, financial or pleasure.
The job of a city councillor, or mayor, shouldn’t be looked on as a career — there is a degree of volunteerism and community support involved as well.
Rather than deciding on a local level, a provincial standard, perhaps linked to the tax-paying population of a community, might make that henhouse guard job less attractive to the foxes out there.