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Coun. Samson Hartland

Council could forego annual pay boost

City council is considering foregoing its annual raise in pay scheduled to kick in Jan. 1.

By Chuck Tobin on September 23, 2020

City council is considering foregoing its annual raise in pay scheduled to kick in Jan. 1.

The automatic annual increase is laid out in the bylaw that guides wages and benefits for the mayor and six councillors.

The bylaw was most recently updated in 2018. Increases are tied directly to the annual average consumer price index (CPI) for Whitehorse from two years previous.

Coun. Samson Hartland suggested that council may want to forego January’s increase.

The average annual CPI in 2019 is not a reflection of the state of the city’s economy this year, he suggested to his colleagues at Monday night’s meeting.

Samson said it’s a much bleaker picture these days, and the average CPI for 2020 could be in the negative when it becomes available after Jan. 1.

Council should lead by example and skip the raise, he said, adding he’ll be discussing his suggestion with fellow council members over the next week.

The discussion ensued during the proposed bylaw that will guide the remuneration for the city council to be elected on Oct. 21, 2021.

It’s been common practice in Whitehorse for years to have the sitting council set the pay schedule for the next council. The policy is meant to avoid putting a newly elected council in the awkward position of debating its own pay increases.

The proposed bylaw to guide remuneration during the 2021 to 2024 term says the mayor’s salary will be $102,502 effective Nov. 1 next year, following the election, and the first increase on Jan. 1, 2022 will be based on the average CPI in 2019.

Each Jan. 1 after, it will be adjusted on the CPI from two years previous.

The remuneration for councillors will be at $36,901 next Nov. 1, with the first increase scheduled for Jan. 1, 2022.

The bylaw guiding pay for members of council also lays out arrangements for benefits, such as extended health coverage, life insurance, dental and so forth.

The bylaw will come back for first reading on Monday.

Mayor Dan Curtis suggested that even debating the remuneration for the next council is somewhat awkward.

Perhaps council should be charged with setting the remuneration for councils which are two terms away, so that instead of looking at remuneration for the 2021-24 term, council would be discussing the 2024 to 2027 term, he said.

There’s always a negative perception when elected representatives in any government vote to give themselves raises, he said, noting there may be members of the current council who will seek re-election next fall and will be successful in returning to their seat.

Curtis agreed it would show leadership if the current city council were to forgo its raise on Jan. 1, given the state of affairs.

Coun. Jan Stick expressed concern about using the average CPI from two years previous to set the annual increase in the pay package.

This council will be using the average CPI to govern its raise on Jan. 1, but the next council will be faced with using the average for 2020, which could be zero, she said.

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, explained the two-year delay in using the average CPI from two years previous. The average for the previous year is not available on Jan. 1, as the previous year would have just ended, she said.

Stick said perhaps the annual raise should be calculated on the October anniversary date of the council’s election, instead of on Jan. 1.

Coun. Steve Roddick told his colleagues Monday that discussing pay raises for elected representatives is sensitive at the best of times.

It is important, however, that remuneration for members of city council be lucrative enough to attract members of the community to run for office, he said.

Roddick suggested if council wants to forgo the raise on Jan.1, there is the possibility council could vote to forward the equivalent of the raise to a local charity.

Comments (7)

Up 0 Down 0

Josey Wales on Sep 29, 2020 at 10:06 am

Hey Nathan...every time I read your participation I think of Tim Dillon.
He is purdy damn funny, as are you from time to time.

Up 18 Down 1

Nathan Living on Sep 24, 2020 at 3:02 pm

Mayor and council are showing leadership which is nice.

The managers are being paid way too much let's put a wage cap in place.
City wages need more oversight.

Up 15 Down 0

Hur dur on Sep 24, 2020 at 11:12 am

It's a bold strategy cotton. That whole "let them eat cake" attitude has not worked out, historically speaking.

All politicians at all levels should have their salaries frozen and reviewed. To offset the cost of that, tax them as if they are regular workers. No more percentage of taxes instead the 33% the public pays. No more golden parachutes for a few years of your life that you were compensated.

Up 46 Down 0

Nope on Sep 23, 2020 at 4:10 pm

I don't think Roddick gets it.
We don't want your self appointed raise to go to charity, we want you to not have a raise.

You know just like us out here in the real world who are busting our humps just trying to make ends meet. Some folks are really suffering, it's hard to believe he can't fathom this.

Up 32 Down 6

My Opinion on Sep 23, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Admirable start but how about a wage cut like everyone else? That's what I'm talking about.

Up 36 Down 0

Jason on Sep 23, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Very likely that you'll have negative inflation by the next review, so yes, I agree, it's awkward. Will the next council adjust their salaries down? While I'm on the subject, I'd love to see a story about the proposal senior management has in to council to bump their already generous salaries up even further. They think they should make over $200k a year. What do you think?

Up 43 Down 1

Lost In the Yukon on Sep 23, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Given how small business owners and their employees have had their lives and livelihood turned upside down because of the pandemic, it would be grossly irresponsible for Dan Curtis to allow a pay raise for people already exceedingly well paid and fully employed ... and working at home ... and given through money that comes from TAX PAYERS.

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