Council pay review set for April

York city councillors unanimously approved a 3.25 per cent raise for themselves and managers Monday.
The increase — which matches last year’s — will boost councillors’ annual wages to $16,765 from $16,240.
The mayor’s salary will increase to $68,490 from $62,845.
The city’s top wage earner, city manager Norbert Van Wyk, will see his salary increase to $133,400 from $129,200.
About 75 non-unionized staffers will receive the increase, which will add $220,000 to the city’s $117 million operating budget.
Some councillors spoke in support of the formula tying councillors’ raises to that approved for managers, superintendents, supervisors, directors and some specialists.
But others have questioned whether councillors’ workloads have grown to the point where it’s time to boost paycheques.
“It should be $30,000 to $36,000,” said Councillor Jeffrey Dawson.
In the last 25 years, council has gone from a one-third regular pay position to a job worth half or even two-thirds of a standard wage, he estimates.
“I’m to the point where it may not be politically correct to say we need more money — but we do need more money.”
Dawson said it’s worth taking a look at the issue when council looks at its wages among other things in April, as part of a mid-term review.
Mayor Gail Surkan is among those who thinks it’s time to take another look at what council gets paid.
“I know that there is more time required than there ever used to be and I know that the issues are much more complex,” said the mayor.
“As a result of that I’m really sympathetic to (councillors’) views that they don’t feel at this point that they are getting adequate compensation.”
The issue has been raised that if the position doesn’t pay well enough it will be hard to attract a good cross-section of candidates.
“That’s a very real concern that I can understand and can agree with and is a substantial issue for us as we go forward.”
Surkan believes the public would support increased salaries for council if a good case was made for it.
“That’s where we need to focus on the process that we go through to ensure that when we do come up with a decision that we can support it, that it’s reasonable, that it reflects reasonable comparisons elsewhere in the private sector and the public sector, and that it reflects the kind of work that is being done.”
Councillor Larry Pimm supports the policy of tying council wages to what it pays its administrators.
“I think that is supportable and reasonable,” he said.
He noted the formula takes into account wages in other cities and tries to keep city staff in the middle of the pack.
“I support that policy. I think it’s the right way for us to go.
“If it’s good enough for our employees, surely it should be good enough for us.”
Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer said whether the job and the amount of pay match up depends on the time of year.
But she believes the job has grown beyond the one-third salary position it once was. She would support reviewing salaries in April.
“As a municipality grows, I think you have to treat the honorarium accordingly.”
Councillor Vesna Higham has also recently spoken out in favour or reviewing council wages, noting she spends more than 20 hours a week on municipal business.
More money would encourage a more diverse slate of candidates at election time, she said.