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Victoria council pauses pay raise, strikes task force for advice

Council postpones consideration of pay raise bylaw until July 25
Victoria council will await a task force review instead of moving forward with a payraise approved in March. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria council will revisit its recently approved pay raise, instead pressing pause and directing the city manager to strike a task force.

In March, council voted 5-3 to raise councillor pay to 50 per cent of the mayor’s base salary. Current remuneration is 40 per cent. Using 2023 numbers, that would mean base pay would have risen from $51,000 to almost $64,000.

The subsequent public response led to council pressing pause on the plan during its April 4 meeting.

Citing 150 to 200 emails about the process used to make the decision, Coun. Jeremy Caradonna offered the “path ahead.”

“What I heard from the public was there were concerns about the process and the procedure,” he said. “With that, I’m happy to push pause on this process and the consideration of remuneration and to put it in the hands of an independent task force.”

READ ALSO: Victoria councillors vote to increase their pay this term

Caradonna made the motion to strike a task force, crediting Coun. Stephen Hammond, who didn’t support the March remuneration bylaw and publicly promoted a different approach.

In a unanimous vote, council opted to pause consideration of pay raise bylaw until July 25. They will have the city manager strike an independent task force, made up of diverse community, non-profit, labour, government and business leaders, using the Union of BC Municipalities councillor remuneration guide and its terms of reference as a guide.

The group will review council’s spring decision on pay and benefits, do interviews to determine time commitments for city-related work and make a recommendation to council on salary and benefit adjustments and per diems for committee appointments and conferences.

It would also make recommendations on the effective date of adjustments, a reason Hammond and Mayor Marianne Alto opposed the original pay raise bylaw.

Hammond noted the idea came from 2022 governance review that recommended council send anything related to remuneration to a task force.

READ ALSO: Colwood council approves new pay formula, will receive raise

“I still hold firm to my view that whatever recommendation this panel comes to any increases must be held over to the next council,” he said.

Alto posed the approved amendment to include “and the effective date of any such adjustments” to the motion.

“I think there is a rich conversation to be had about when any such adjustments should become effective. … Why not get advice from the experts,” she said.

While the entirety of council supported striking the task force, Coun. Dave Thompson noted no group is infallible.

“To me this feels a bit like punting a decision because ‘politics’ something the previous council did way to much of, including on this very compensation issue … here we are cleaning that up,” he said.

Deadline to form the task force is July 1.

Participants will receive a stipend.

READ ALSO: $125-a-head, 3-course Empress banquet reimbursed for Victoria councillors

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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