Remuneration for local government elected officials is written into bylaws, and typically reviewed during budget talks. (Trail Times file photo)

Remuneration for local government elected officials is written into bylaws, and typically reviewed during budget talks. (Trail Times file photo)

Trail council bumps pay, others set to follow

Compensation is at the discretion of the municipal councils and can widely vary

With local government seats up for election this fall, now’s a good time to review what elected officials earn in the job.

Each council as well as the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) has compensation particulars written into a bylaw, and the bylaw is updated annually during budget talks.

There’s room for debate on pay raises, but it generally doesn’t come up. That’s because written in each bylaw from Rossland to Beaver Valley is the condition that the percentage change must be equal to the Consumer Price Index, which is about two per cent. If councils decide a bigger increase is in order, that would have go through a process of bylaw amendment.

Trail council went through the motion in chambers on Tuesday, and for this last term, remuneration for the mayor is $30,936 and for the six councillors, $15,468.

“It is at the discretion of the municipal council and the annual stipends paid can vary widely,” the city’s Michelle McIssac told the Trail Times. “Trail council chose to proceed with a two per cent increase this year, but they could have decided otherwise.”

The matter has yet to reach the table in Rossland. However the city’s bylaw has been in place since 1998 and includes a two per cent remuneration increase. That year the mayor’s compensation was $9,750, and councillors $4,972.50. Fast forward 20 years, and those numbers sit at $12,013 and $6,126 respectively, not including another two per cent for 2018.

Stipends in the villages are less, although compensation isn’t based on population or the number of eligible voters per se. That said, there appears to be a correlation as Montrose has the smallest pool of electors, 838, and comes in at the bottom of the list.

The village adopted its current remuneration bylaw four years ago, which notes, “the amounts set forth under … this Bylaw shall be adjusted by a percentage equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for all items as published by Statistics Canada for the Province of British Columbia for the preceding twelve month period terminating on Dec. 31 of each year.” That year mayor’s stipend was $8,000 and the four councillors received $4,000.

Next in line is Warfield with 1,400 electors in file, according to CivicInfoBC.

This year the mayor will be paid $10,383.56, and councillors, $7268.85.

“Our bylaw provides for a yearly increase for mayor and council equal to the CPI for B.C. which is around two per cent,” confirmed Corporate Officer Jackie Patridge. “We are not making any other changes.”

Finally, Fruitvale’s indemnity bylaw dates to 2012 and stipulates annual adjustments shall be in accordance with the CPI. That year the mayor’s compensation was $12,000 and the councillors, $6,000. CivicInfoBC lists Fruitvale’s voting pool at 1,722.

Remuneration at the regional district is not so straight forward.

Stipends for the five electoral area directors start at $1,074 monthly ($716 stipend, $358 expenses) and $750 for the eight municipal directors, including $250 for expenses. But the number grows exponentially with travel time allowances, cell phone and technology expenses as well as other incidentals like meals and accommodation.

The board chair is compensated $1,911 each month and the vice chair receives a $333 monthly stipend.

Another factor impacting the tally is the number of standing and select committees each director sits on, and if he or she chairs respective meetings. The RDKB lists 29 committees on its website, compared to 19 back in 2016, to cover the gamut from boundary economics and the Okanagan Film Commission to east end sewer, the Columbia River Treaty and West Kootenay Transit Committee.

Directors are compensated $83 to attend a committee meeting and another $111 to chair it.

Last year’s tallies won’t be available until SOFI’s are released later this year, but there will likely be a shift in remuneration amounts.

“Organizationally, there was a change last year which saw a number of independent committees becoming committees of the whole,” Trail Mayor Mike Martin explained. “And this changed some committee chair responsibilities.”

Comparably, according to Castlegar’s 2016 summary statement, the mayor’s remuneration was $39,260 ($28,000 plus expenses) and the city’s six councillors, $14,000 plus expenses.