Revelstoke city council voted to remove the proposed raises from the budget and have staff draft a policy on council remuneration for their future consideration. (Contributed)

Revelstoke city council backtracks on pay raises

They voted to have staff prepare a policy to ensure fair pay in the future

Revelstoke city council will not be giving themselves a raise this year.

At a special council meeting Monday, Coun. Cody Younker brought forward a motion to remove the phased-in raises from the draft budget.

Instead, he asked city staff to come back with a report establishing a remuneration policy for the next city council.

“I think it is important to recognize that people have spoken and I think we all still stand by that we support better pay for the job,” Younker said.

The motion passed unanimously.

Younker first proposed that raises for mayor and council be considered for the 2020 budget in November 2019.

During budget deliberations in January, former councillor Steven Cross made a motion to removed the raises from the budget and redirect the money to the roads and infrastructure budget.

When the motion was defeated, Cross resigned.

READ MORE: Revelstoke City Councillor Steven Cross resigns

READ MORE: UPDATE: Revelstoke City Council gives themselves a raise, councillor resigns in protest

In the days after the resignation there was significant public backlash to the proposed raises, both online and, according to Younker, in person, causing him to reconsider is position.

Two days later, Younker released a statement saying he would no longer be supporting the council raises.

At Monday’s meeting, he said, “The prudent thing now is to listen.”

However, Younker said he was not backing down, saying he wanted to ensure that raises for mayor and council were in place before the next election.

Mayor Gary Sulz agreed the raises are necessary.

“Historically in Revelstoke council remuneration has been low compared to other communities with a negligible increase for several years,” Sulz said.

“When we were elected we knew the wages were low however, moving forward we need to stop underpaying the people that are charged with making the decisions for the community.

“It is council’s responsibility to ensure that council remuneration is at least at industry standards.”

Coun. Rob Elliott wanted to see a deadline put on the motion to ensure that city staff brought back a report in a timely manner.

“As an employer of people, I would never expect someone to work for me for free or for under what they are worth,” Elliott said.

“I think it is important as a community that we would do the same.”

However, council agreed that the flexible wording in the motion would allow city staff to prioritize as they see fit.

“For me this is not a top priority,” Younker said.

Coun. Michael Brooks-Hill said he was looking forward to seeing the staff report, to have baseline information to refer to as there are many different ways to look at the information.

“The problem people had was the process, the fact that there was no clear reasoning behind these numbers and the timing of it,” he said.

Coun. Nicole Cherlet said that everyone she talked to in-person was in favour of the raises, but wanted to have a more “fullsome discussion about the amounts and the timeline and what this would look like.”

“We have heard loud and clear from some parts of our community, but I would argue that we have not heard from the majority,” she said.

Cherlet said she is worried the raises won’t be implemented as it is too easy for councillors to say: “I don’t need it.”

She admitted that she does need it.

“I am going through the year-end financials of my business right now and I am looking at the impact of my capacity here, doing amazing work that I am super proud of and the impact that is having on my business and my own financial stability,” she said.

Cherlet also said she would like more clear communication on the budget process, as she thinks it can be difficult for people to track a proposal and the steps necessary before it becomes a permanent decision. “There is other discussions in this budget that really need to be had but I think they have gotten lost now,” she said.

READ MORE: City of Revelstoke proposing 6% property tax increase


 

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