EDITORIAL: CRD directors pierce the golden goose

A significant wage increase is underway, but is it right?

Politicians deserve to be fairly compensated. But the way the Capital Regional District went about it – nearly doubling remuneration – was all wrong.

CRD directors voted last week to give themselves a pay hike, increasing the base pay for the board’s 24 members to $17,000 a year from $8,940. The board chairperson will be paid an additional stipend of $25,000 a year, up from $20,000, for a total of $42,000. And let’s remember this doesn’t include additional stipends for committee work.The raises take effect Jan. 1.

The pay hike wouldn’t have been unreasonable, if we got here in small increments. Instead, the CRD held off for 20 years and then decided that taxpayers could handle a 100 per cent increase.

The plan was so badly thought out that some directors weren’t even aware the issue was coming forward until they read about it in local newspapers.

The argument some directors gave was that they were hard done by and have had to make sacrifices to serve the greater constituency. It’s an argument full of holes. To start with, politicians should know what they’re going into before they accept the position. For those on municipal councils, they can always be asked to be relieved of their duties.

The board has now decided an annual cost-of-living adjustments will be applied and remuneration will be reviewed every three to five years to ensure it remains competitive. We suggest they take it another step further and appoint a committee – no politicians, please – who review the pay the year prior to an election. The committee can make a determination on whether politicians are getting fair pay for the work.

Politicians should be put in a position where they think they are making a sacrifice to serve, but they also need to be realistic.