It's been almost five years since the District of Squamish conducted a salary review for its employees, presenting a report in 2007 based on numbers from 2006. At Tuesday's council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Ramsay said a new review was necessary to ensure that the district's wages were competitive. He requested $8,000 to fund a study that would examine wages at comparable local governments.
Ramsay said that they need to be put into alignment with other municipalities in terms of positions and responsibilities, and that the lack of salary parity has created "difficulty in attracting management to specific areas."
"There have been changes to local government math in remuneration in the province over the last five years and changes to housing costs in Squamish that do affect our ability to recruit," he said.
Ramsay added that the result of the salary review could indicate that wages could move upward, stay the same or even move downward.
One of the challenges is that positions in Squamish have evolved differently than positions in other jurisdictions, and as a result they're not equal or directly comparable. A review would "also determine banding of equal positions so we have equal positions to the district in other areas," so wages can be compared.
Greg Gardner, speaking on behalf of Councillor Rob Kirkham, said he would vote for the review funding on the condition that council or the Finance Standing Committee would have a chance to review the terms of conditions for the review and ask the right questions of the consultant.
Ramsay said staff would be open to that.
Councillor Patricia Heintzman questioned whether that level of supervision was necessary, and while Gardner said it was a shame to have to do these studies he pointed out the fact that there will be some judgment calls for the consultant.
"For the terms of reference will we be comparing ourselves to communities adjacent to us or similar sized? There may be issues involved given the judgment calls on what our organization is compared to another comparable organizations. And I think Councillor Kirkham would say that council is involved in this decision because it is a budget decision that will come to council and also involves senior management - including the one member of staff who reports to us."
The funding request was passed unanimously and Ramsay said it could be completed in four to six weeks.