After receiving an insufficient number of members for the proposed council remuneration task force, the District of Houston has decided to take matters into their own hands.
District staff issued a call for expressions of interest for the five to seven member task force in May, and continued to do so throughout June. However, only one expression of interest was received.
“As a result, I am recommending that staff be directed to conduct the analysis and prepare recommendations for council to consider,” wrote Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), in a report to council.
During a recent meeting, Houston council directed staff to conduct the remuneration analysis, as well as to include input from the sole resident who expressed interest in being on the task force.
“Staff are now in the process of determining a methodology for the analysis, which will be conducted in the near future,” explained Tasha Kelly, Houston’s Acting CAO.
She added that results are expected to be released before the October municipal election as the new remuneration will come into effect for council’s next term.
According to district staff, conducting this analysis in house will result in cost savings for the district. The 2018 budget included a line for up to $15,000 for the council remuneration review.
The goal of the review is to provide a set of recommendations on what would be an appropriate level of remuneration for council. Currently, the mayor’s stipend is $15,783 while each councillor is paid $7891 annually.
In Burns Lake, a municipality of similar size and population, the annual remuneration for the position of mayor is $17,762 while each councillor is paid $8373 annually.
Although a bylaw passed in 2010 sets out that the remuneration paid to mayor and councillors will be increased by the B.C. Consumer Index each year, earlier this year council decided to waive their remuneration increase.
The most recent B.C. Consumer Index available shows an increase of 2.1 per cent, which would’ve brought the mayor’s remuneration to about $16,114 and councillors’ stipend to approximately $8056 annually.
This was not the first time that a Houston council has waived their pay increase. In fact, there has been no increase to Houston’s council remuneration since 2010.
The remuneration levels do not include expenses such as travel and accommodation incurred by the mayor and council on District of Houston business.