Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he has no intention of looking at nixing a yearly pay bump for himself and his councillors, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A city bylaw passed in 2012 ties council’s yearly pay raises to the consumer price index for Vancouver, used as a measure for the cost of living, often amounting to around a one per cent salary increase each year. That number is released by Statistics Canada on a yearly basis and this year would amount to a 0.8 per cent increase. The intention of that bylaw was to de-politicize council’s pay raises, no longer requiring councillors and the mayor to vote on their remuneration, instead of making increases automatic.
Currently, Mayor Basran’s salary is around $110,000, while his councillors earn $37,000 a year.
“It’s not a large amount,” Basran said of the increase, which would amount to almost $1,000 more a year for himself and a few hundred dollars extra for city councillors.
Basran said the workload on council has increased significantly throughout the pandemic and stated many people in many sectors are receiving scheduled pay raises. He said he doesn’t feel council needs to revisit the policy right now.
“I know that’s not going to be popular with some,” he said. “I appreciate there are some people who have been impacted negatively by the pandemic but there have been government programs set up to help those individuals.”
Basran added many people have not seen any change in their employment and acknowledged some in the community are doing very well despite the pandemic.
While acknowledging the pay increase as minuscule, Coun. Mohini Singh says she would be open to the discussion of repealing the bylaw for a year. She plans to donate the additional funds she procures to a Journey Home program for the first six months and the Kelowna Firefighters Charitable Society for the last six months of the year.
“A lot of families have been hurt through this COVID period; a lot of people have been hurt through this COVID period,” she said, adding she’s not trying to “grandstand.”
“Whatever the bump will be … I will give it back to the community.”
Still, Singh admitted she didn’t feel the pay increase was undeserved.
“I worked through Christmas; I worked through New Year’s; I worked through the weekend,” she said. “We work very hard. It’s a small amount to keep with the cost of living.
“It’s not a pay raise, it’s just a stipend if you will.”
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