The salaries of Port Moody city councillors and the mayor are up for review, and at least a couple of politicians believe it's time for a raise.
"I think our council is underpaid," Mayor Mike Clay told the Tri-Cities NOW.
He argued the salaries for council members in Port Moody are substantially lower than those of their counterparts in PoCo and Coquitlam, yet the city has the same challenges.
Last year, PoCo city councillors made $36,118, while their colleagues in Coquitlam took home $53,836 for their work.
In 2012, each of the Port Moody councillors earned $16,698 in salary, and another $8,398 in tax-free allowance, for a total of slightly more than $25,000.
The mayor gets three times the salary of a city councillor.
Clay said he's OK with giving local politicians more money if doing so helps them pay better attention to their job, noting some councillors have to work a day job along with dealing with their council responsibilities.
"We can't expect people to go wholeheartedly in a council position if they're not able to fund the necessities of life," he said.
The last salary review took place in 2008 under the guidance of a citizen task force.
Last week, council voted in favour of having staff look into using a consultant to undertake a review, with the possibility of forming a task force afterward.
Couns. Diana Dilworth and Bob Elliott both voted against the motion to consider a consultant, instead favouring the task force. Speaking to the Tri-Cities NOW prior to the vote, Dilworth acknowledged the issue of politicians' wages is always a hot one with residents, but suggested the salaries are minuscule compared to the overall city budget. Dilworth argued a raise is warranted, especially since councillors don't get any of the benefits offered to city employees.
"I work very hard for the city and I have bills to pay," she said.
"Why shouldn't that work be recognized with an increase even to a minimum of what others are getting in the community?" However, she didn't have a number in mind for the raise, adding she wants to wait and let the process unfold.
Dilworth also lamented the fact there are no guidelines or standards when it comes to council compensation, noting it's usually just based on what's paid in other selected municipalities.
She also questioned whether the majority of council would have the "courage" to do salary review before an election, and advised the new councillors who haven't been through a review to see the process through.
Coun. Rick Glumac is one of the new councillors going through a review for the first time.
He argued any raise should be put into place after the next civic election.
Besides that, Glumac said he's keeping an open mind.
"It's important that it's a fair process," he said.
But the councillor said any talk of raises puts politicians in a tough situation because the media tends to focus on that issue and not on larger expenditures or cost saving measures.
The discussion on councillor compensation is expected to be on the agenda later this fall.
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