Updated: Richmond council responds to salary increase

The News is surveying council members to see whether they will waive an increase to their pay to compensate for a loss of a tax exemption.

Mayor and council salaries are going up significantly this year to compensate for the loss of a federal tax exemption. A motion was passed, however, at the last council meeting of 2018 that allowed members of council to waive the increases, which are estimated at $9,000 to $12,000 for councillors and $35,000 to $39,000 for the mayor.

At the time, Mayor Malcolm Brodie called the increase an “adjustment,” not a “raise.”

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The News surveyed the mayor and councillors by email to see who planned to waive the increase and who planned to keep it (see here for original article).

Coun. Chak Au stated in December he would waive the increase because he said he didn’t want to download his loss of income onto taxpayers. He confirmed last week that he has formally notified the city that he will waive the increase for the whole term, which is four years.

Coun. Alexa Loo said she couldn’t afford to take a paycut.

“I am planning to feed, house and clothe my family with the same take-home pay I had last week,” she said in an email to the News.

Coun. Michael Wolfe said he still has some questions and is expecting to clarify these issues at next week’s committee meeting.

Coun. Carol Day said council is still waiting for more information from staff “about the options for dealing with the federal changes for our tax losses.” When the topic was dealt with, she supported a motion for a phased-in approach, but, she added, that was not adopted.

Coun. Kelly Greene said she will waive the increase but will accept the CPI increase.

Coun. Linda McPhail said she will accept the increase, while acknowledging Richmond taxpayers will pay a larger portion of their salaries.

“I believe Council remuneration provides an incentive for community members to hold public office and recognition for the time and effort spent to the governance responsibility of City services, operations and programs,” McPhail said. She added there is anecdotal evidence that keeping pay “competitive” attracts people, especially younger people, to local politics, adding “it can be difficult for people other than those with established careers or in retirement to be effective politicians, leading to a lack of proper representation.”

The News is still waiting for other council members to respond.

 

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