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Update: Decisions on Prince George city council pay pushed to after election

A report outlined two potential alternatives to the current system used for setting pay increases for mayor and council.
Prince George City Hall 6
Prince George City Hall is seen in a Citizen file photo.

Options outlining possible changes to how city council’s remuneration is reviewed were brought forward to city council on Monday night.

On June 27, city council approved the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Council Remuneration to enact a one per cent raise for the mayor and 3.5 per cent raise for city councillors on Jan. 1, 2023 and again on Jan. 1, 2024. The current annual compensation for the mayor is $129,461 per year and councillors receive $37,908 per year.

At the same meeting, city council also requested a report back before the Oct. 15 election, outlining alternative options for reviewing city council’s compensation.

Under the current system, an independent committee of community members is struck once every four years to review the mayor and city council’s pay and benefits, as compared to mayors and councillors in eight similar-sized B.C. communities (Langley, Delta, North Vancouver, Saanich, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Kamloops), city manager Walter Babicz wrote in the report to council.

In addition, mayor and council receive an annual adjustment to their remuneration equal to the lesser of: the annual wage adjustment applied to City of Prince George exempt staff salaries or the average of the wage adjustment for the fiscal year for the public administration industry published by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as the Average Annual Percentage Wage Adjustments by quarter.

In his report to council, Babicz proposed two potential options: change the cities that Prince George is compared to, or eliminate the committee review every four years and set automatic annual pay increases for mayor and council, based on one of four formulas.

“The first option presented is to maintain the current framework set out in the Council Remuneration Bylaw, but direct staff to review the peer municipalities referenced in the bylaw with a view to if changes should be made to the peer municipality list,” Babicz wrote “The intent would be to remove and/or replace one or more cities on the list with other cities that are more similar to the City of Prince George in terms of population, trends or challenges.”

Under the section option, the Advisory Committee on Council Remuneration review every four years would be eliminated, and instead the remuneration for mayor and council would be adjusted annually, based on one of four options: the currently established formula for annual adjustments as set out in the bylaw; the annual rate of change as adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for B.C.; the annual increases provided to B.C. MLAs; or the annual increases provided to Members of Parliament.

“If council directs administration to bring this report forward to the next council for consideration, staff will perform additional research and provide further details regarding the above options, together with any additional options that may be identified for consideration,” Babicz added.

On Monday night, city council voted to have the report brought back to the next city council following the election, no later than Jan. 30.

"I would prefer not to set any direction for the future council," Coun. Cori Ramsay said.

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