The prize for winners of November’s municipal election in Invermere just got a little sweeter.
At its October 11 meeting, the current district of Invermere council signed off on pay hikes of more than 20 per cent for all five elected officials — but only those who return to council for another term will benefit from the change.
The raise will see councillor wages increase by just under 35 per cent, from $8,902 to $12,000 annually. The mayor’s salary jumps up 21 per cent, from $16,561 to $20,000.
Councillors said they hope the raise will encourage more Invermere residents from different walks to life to put their names forward at election time.
“When I tell people the mayor makes about $16,000 a year, a lot of people are shocked,” said mayor Gerry Taft, who says he sees his mayoral salary as more of a “remuneration for lost wages” than a regular income stream.
Taft said B.C.’s lower rate of pay for civic officials tends to mean town and village councils are made up of “retired, bald men,” with less representation from other sectors of the population
“This increase could make it easier for a lot of young people, middle aged people, and people to get involved,” he added.
Other councillors agreed.
“There’s a lot of time that goes into it.” added councillor Ray Brydon, who estimates he attended 100 meetings for the district in the last year. “It’s amazing the number of hours… and the amount is not extravagant.”
Councillor Spring Hawes added that for people who have to balance council commitments with their working hours, “it’s really difficult sometimes to even consider running for public office.”
The district’s new salary scale is based on the recommendations of an independent three-person panel, which reviewed salaries paid to councils in other communities of similar size and considered the amount of work required in the various positions.
The salary change will take effect January 1. One third of council’s pay will continue to act as a tax-free expense allowance.
THE COST OF COUNCIL
With the planned pay raise, Invermere’s mayor will make $20,000, while councillors will get $12,000 annually. Here’s how some other B.C. communities compare:
Radium Hot Springs (population 735): Mayor, $9,457, Councillors, $5,779
Elkford (population 2,463): Mayor, $14,878, Councillors, $7,034
Sparwood (population 3,618): Mayor, $30,910, Councillors, $13,279
Fernie (population 4,217): Mayor, $20,000, Councillors, $12,000
Kimberley (population 6,100): Mayor, $24,725, Councillors $12,362