Langley Township council is considering giving itself another pay increase as it adopts a new system for determining salaries.
The council is mulling a new proposal by the Council Remuneration Task Force that would base mayoral and council salaries on a basket of other public sector wages.
The group used for comparison will include a federal member of Parliament, a B.C. Provincial judge, a B.C. cabinet minister, an MLA, an RCMP superintendent, and the principal of Langley's largest high school.
The idea was to find public sector workers and politicians who have roughly the same workload and responsibilities as municipal politicians, said Township Mayor Jack Froese.
The highest and lowest salaries in the bunch are to be tossed out, an average determined of the remaining salaries, and the mayor to be paid 80 per cent of that amount.
The 20 per cent slice off the top is based on the idea that the job of mayor is a public service, and not something done purely for the pay, said Froese.
Councillors would be paid 40 per cent of the mayor's salary.
That would mean a 3.3 per cent hike from the mayor's current $105,456 salary, and a 12.45 per cent increase for the councillors from $42,936.
Froese said he knows people are concerned about a pay hike for their elected officials.
"It is tough financial times, and people are concerned," he said.
The new total pay package would come to $547,262 a year, including travel allowances.
On Monday afternoon, council voted in favour of the new system, but by a few hours later at the evening meeting there was a vote for a reconsideration.
With Coun. Michelle Sparrow absent, they voted to debate the plan again on Dec. 3, when the entire nine-person council can be present. Coun. Kim Richter voted against the plan, saying the committee did a thorough job, but she took issue with some of the premises.
"People are just not simply getting salary increases like this," Richter said.
She did like moving away from the system that compared Township council salaries to those of nearby councils.
The old system caused controversy when it unexpectedly resulted in hefty raises in 2011.
As the new council was about to be sworn in, the mayor's salary spiked from $93,724 to $105,456 and the council salary went up from $36,043 to $42,936.
That caused a public outcry, with letters to the editor questioning why the system was causing such a big increase. The Langley Advance crunched the numbers.
That showed the system, set up in 2000, had become a feedback loop leading to ever-increasing raises. [Rich raises poorly understood, Dec. 20, 2011]
In 2000, a committee recommended linking Township mayoral and council pay to a comparison of other nearby pay grades, including Chilliwack and Coquitlam.
However, no one in the Township was aware that several communities, including Chilliwack, had instituted similar systems.
This meant that every time the Township councillors got a raise, it resulted in Chilliwack councillors getting a pay bump. Every bump for Chilliwack caused an increase for the Township, in a never-ending upward spiral.
Due to public complaints and the problems with the system, in February the council voted to create a new committee to come up with a new system.
The new system is recommended to include yearly pay adjustments.
If the salaries of the comparison groups go up, so would council and the mayors. However, the report recommends that if the basket of salaries goes down, council pay is frozen rather than declining.