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Council looks to change its wage benchmark

New remuneration policy keeps council wages static



Whistler's long-standing and much pilloried municipal wage benchmark could be set to change.

Municipal wages, and by extension council wages, have traditionally been based on the average of six Lower Mainland cities.

On Tuesday council will receive a report, and a recommendation from the human resources department, to base council's salaries on six different cites.

Those new cities are based on daily population, annual budget and employee count and based on today's average; mayor and council's salaries should be lower not higher.

"I think those are reasonable things to base them on," said Councillor Ralph Forsyth, who originally voted against the review of the council remuneration in June because he recalled how difficult it was to set the policy in the first place.

The policy called for each councillor to get a $5,000 raise, and the mayor a nominal $300 raise. It was sent back to the drawing board for review.

At the time, Councillor Eckhard Zeidler said: "There's something wrong with what we're comparing ourselves too."

He did not want to comment on the new policy Monday, saving his comments for the public council meeting Tuesday evening.

If council approves the policy, its wages will be based on the average of North Vancouver, Port Moody, White Rock, the district of Maple Ridge, Langley and Port Coquitlam.

Traditionally the comparison cities were: North Vancouver, the district of North Vancouver, New Westminster, the corporation district of Delta, the district of West Vancouver, and Coquitlam.

Using the six new comparable cities, council's pay should be more than $1,300 lower per council member and the mayor's pay should be more than $10,000 lower.

Their wages, however, will remain the same. Councillors make $31,437 and the mayor makes $87,633.

The policy has been amended to say: "If RMOW Council salaries are higher than the average of those Municipalities, remuneration would not change for Mayor and Council as Council remuneration only ratchets up and may not go down."

Municipal staff's wages too will remain the same but Forsyth said their contract is up for renewal in 2012.

"Why can't we adopt the same policy (for staff) in the future?" he asked.

Council will consider the report at Tuesday's meeting, the first meeting in a month after the summer break. Also on the agenda is a presentation about the lack of funding for the Squamish/Whistler commuter bus service as well as a public hearing to increase the size of the Rainbow subdivision gas station.

Pick up this week's Pique for full council coverage.