Langford mayor’s pay to double, councillors up 55%; last raise 13 years ago

Langford Mayor Stew Young’s salary will double and his councillors’ pay will increase by more than 55 per cent under a new remuneration policy endorsed by councillors.

The mayor’s annual salary will increase to $75,863 from $37,558 while annual remuneration for councillors will increase to $27,410 from $17,661 retroactive to Jan. 1.

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At Young’s request, the policy states the mayor’s increase can be phased in over a period of between two and five years.

“I don’t like it,” Young said of the size of increase. “They were going to do it all in one year and I  said, ‘That will not happen.’ ”

Young said he will take his increase over five years.

Langford councillors have not had a raise in 13 years and their salaries have fallen way behind other municipalities of similar size — a situation exacerbated by the municipality’s rapid growth, says a staff report.

“There’s a lot of catching up to do,” said Coun. Lillian Szpak.

The new council remuneration rates represent the low end of the average of council salaries of similar-sized communities [excluding those in Metro Vancouver] in the province,” Szpak said.

“We are the lowest on average. So we’re very mindful of our taxpayer. We’re very mindful of making sure that we are keeping costs low for our community.”

“On one hand it’s hard for councils to say we’re going to be giving ourselves a raise but you’re the only people that can because you’re the decision makers and you have to look to the future as well. And you don’t want to be having a great big lump sum jump. This is where we’ve ended up because we’ve left it all this time,” Szpak said.

Young said that the under the city’s bylaw, council remuneration should have been reviewed every two years and it was “a mistake” that it was not.

He said his council is deserving of the raise but he doesn’t like the optics of the large increase.

“Langford has a culture of keep our costs down and ... unfortunately we kept it down a little bit too much,” Young said. “We should have kept with the plan of [reviewing it] every two years and we wouldn’t be doing this.”

Given Langford’s population of 39,368, its councillors are being paid 45 cents per capita. That is considerably less than similar size municipalities, says the report.

For example in North Cowichan (population 29,676) councillors are paid 97 cents per capita for $28,782 a year.

In Port Moody (population 33,551) councillors are paid $1.21 per capita for $40,579.

In Mission (population 38,833) councillors are paid $1.09 per capita for $42,197 a year.

Young’s current remuneration equates to 95 cents per capita for $37,558.

By comparison, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring receives $2.69 per capita for $79,956.

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov receives $3.33 per capita for $111,833.

Mission Mayor Pam Alexis is paid $2.17 per capita for $84,394.

The recommended remuneration was set at the average of five similar-sized municipalities. The newly adopted salaries reflect a council salary of 70 cents per capita and the mayor receiving $1.93 per capita.

Councillors and their families are also to receive extended health and dental benefits.

Extra pay of for councillors serving as acting mayor will be capped at the current $828 per month.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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