Sooke councillors are set to discuss whether they want to give a small present to themselves in the form of a five per cent wage hike in next year’s budget.
Coun. Al Beddows will bring a notice of motion to Wednesday night’s special council meeting to discuss a wage boost and whether an advisory committee for future mayor and council salary increases should be established.
“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we put into this job, and it’s been growing a lot since the pandemic,” said Beddows. “Sometimes I’m left to spend a Sunday preparing for a council meeting the next day.”
He pointed out he was sent 23 letters for a public hearing, which he had to review just hours before entering a council meeting on Monday. During that meeting, council had to cut off their Zoom meeting after four hours and deferred a remaining portion of items to a special meeting on Dec. 16.
Under a proposed wage hike of five per cent, councillors would make $15,750 instead of their current $15,000, and mayor Maja Tait would bring in $31,500 compared to her current $30,000.
This move comes off a wage hike in 2019 when Sooke council approved a nearly 50 per cent wage increase after a decade of frozen wages.
Beddows said if remuneration were equivalent to 2008 standards when their wages were frozen, it would equal around $17,000 for councillors and $34,000 for mayor Tait.
As with many Greater Victoria municipalities, they deal with decreasing buying power due to the increased cost of living, as more people have flocked to Sooke. The federal income tax exemption for one-third of an elected official’s salary has been eliminated since the beginning of 2019.
“This idea is completely outrageous and tone-deaf,” said John Treleaven, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayer$. “If they hadn’t just raised their salaries last year, I would’ve understood, but we’re in a zero-inflation environment right now. It would appear that Sooke’s council just doesn’t get it. They should be embarrassed.”
Treleaven added that it isn’t unusual for municipal governments to ask for outside advisors for pay wage increases, but he thinks “now is not the time.”
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