After a lengthy and contentious discussion on what councillors should be paid, Sooke district council has kicked the can further down the road, delaying any decision for at least another two weeks.
The move came after a motion by Coun. Brenda Parkinson to delay the decision for two months was defeated with only Parkinson and Coun. Al Beddows voting in favour of the move.
Parkinson’s motion would have seen the formation of a committee to review council remuneration, despite detailed staff and consultant reports were already available. Those reports indicate the District of Sooke pays its councillors the least of any of the Greater Victoria municipalities.
The staff report used the information to bring forward a recommendation that council approve a 15 per cent increase for 2019, plus a 1.5 per cent increase in following years.
Under the plan, councillors will see their annual pay jump from $10,160 to $11,684 in the first year, while the mayor’s salary will go to $23,368.
Parkinson defended her proposal to form yet another committee, saying council needed a “fact-based report” that resonated with Sooke residents.
Beddows said it was important council be seen as consulting with the public, noting it was a touchy issue and consultation could save council headaches down the road.
The approach raised the ire of freshman Coun. Megan McMath, who maintained fair compensation was critical to attracting quality candidates to run for council.
Her comments elicited a response from Parkinson that Sooke has a good council now – four with university degrees –and that current compensation didn’t prevent that from happening.
The debate continued with at least one unusual twist.
At one point Parkinson seemed to call or an impromptu straw vote of the gallery, asking people who supported the salary increase to raise their hands.
She was cautioned that this was not allowed, but responded with, “Well, I just did it.”
At yet another point, McMath cautioned her fellow councillors that they should not be wasting staff time and delaying what needed to be done, “going through a process because you’re concerned about what people will say on Facebook.”
Coun. Tony St.-Pierre agreed: “I don’t like wasting tax money if we know what the outcome should be.”