Trail council is one step away from getting their annual two per cent pay increase.
With three readings given to the council indemnity bylaw during the Monday night regular meeting – held via Zoom – all that’s left to do is “adopt” the pay raise at the next council meeting, scheduled for Feb. 22.
The latest two per cent increase will have the Trail mayor being compensated $39,425, or an additional $775 compared to $38,650 in 2020.
The six Trail councillors will make $18,525 each this year, compared to $18,150 last year, a difference of $375.
With the city going into a second year of no public events due to provincial health orders, such as Silver City Days, the Trail Times asked Mayor Lisa Pasin to defend council’s decision for a bump in pay during a pandemic.
“Each spring, council begins budget deliberations,” Pasin began. “Review of the budget includes assessment of council stipends. With council both evaluating and approving their stipend increase, it is easy to come under criticism for any decision made that exceeds a zero per cent annual increase.”
Historically, the elected officials’ yearly two per cent wage increase follows suit with negotiated increases in the collective agreement of unionized City of Trail workers. As well, exempt staff (management) are afforded increases that parallel the municipality’s union employees.
The two per cent stipend increase for the mayor and six councillors collectively amounts to $3,025, bringing the 2021 stipend budget to $150,575.
“Which is a 0.04 per cent increase in the property tax levy,” Pasin said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highly impacted individuals, businesses and organizations, and the City of Trail is no exception, she continued.
“The pandemic has stressed and strained our organization and operations. The diligence and exceptional work of the multiple layers of city employees, under very difficult circumstances, has played a significant role in allowing city operations to continue in a safe and effective manner during this pandemic.”
As mayor, Pasin says she would not ask — nor expect — the city’s union and exempt employees to forego fair compensation for their work performed.
“Nor would I expect that of council.”
Trail council generally votes for a two per cent increase in allowance early in budget deliberations. The last pay raise was in February 2020.
In 2019, a federal tax change went into effect wherein the salary-plus-allowances of elected municipal officials were taxed 100 per cent. Historically, one-third of those earnings qualified for a federal tax exemption.
That change prompted local governments to review their remunerations to account for this tax adjustment, and in 2019, compensation increases from 10 to 28 per cent went into play.
Trail also went through an overview that year to determine if council stipends were in line with other similar-sized municipalities. Compensation was found to be fair and in 2019, Trail council approved a 14.91 per cent raise that maintained the take-home pay as status quo, or $35,550 for Trail mayor and $17,775 for councillors.