Whistler council is establishing a citizens advisory committee to determine fair remuneration for council members in 1998 and beyond. Council decided to establish the committee after a recent review of council indemnities suggested Whistler may have fallen behind other municipalities in what it pays its council members. Whistler uses North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Coquitlam, West Vancouver, Delta and New Westminster as a comparison group. The average indemnity for mayors in the comparison group is $56,424 and the average indemnity for councillors in the same group is $19,547. Whistler currently compensates Mayor Hugh O’Reilly $44,860 annually, while each councillor receives $13,459.89. The acting mayor receives a further $561.48 per month. "We felt awkward (determining fair remuneration) ourselves, so a citizen’s advisory panel is an arm’s length way of doing it," O’Reilly said last week. The committee of three will include one person appointed by council, who will then select two other citizens. The committee will recommend council indemnities for 1998, allowable expenses and a methodology for adjusting indemnities beyond 1998. The last general increase in council indemnities was in 1996. Meanwhile, council members have given themselves a $918 raise for 1997. The increase reflects the municipality’s recreation credit program, which is offered to all municipal employees. The only way for council members to legally receive the recreation credit was to increase their remuneration. "It’s not cash in lieu, we’re going to pay tax on it so we may as well use it," O’Reilly said. The recreation credit is intended to be used for purchasing a ski pass, golf pass or recreation centre pass.