Last week’s Keremeos Village Council meeting saw the councillors vote themselves a 1 1/2 per cent increase per year over the next three years, an increase based on a settlement made with the municipality’s unionized workers.
We don’t wish to challenge the increase, which is reasonable given the current rate of inflation.
Two issues concern us about this – the first being one of process, that of elected officials having the ability to vote themselves their own increases.
There needs to be a procedure in place – at all levels of government – that provides an opportunity for politicians’ wages to be assessed by someone other than themselves.
For instance, what about a system similar to the Alternate Approval Process?
Allow the public to gather a per centage of voter’s signatures should there be an issue with a political body’s self appointed increases.
If enough of the voting public respond, the motion would not carry. This type of procedure would force the public to respond and participate, which would most likely mean they would only do so when the increase is unreasonable, and outrage manifest.
The other issue regards what appears to be an increasingly widening gap in cost of living increases between various groups of workers.
In this particular case, the councillors felt justified in increases that reflected that of the workers nearest them – which in turn were based on collective bargaining.
What council failed to note in their discussion over the motion, was that there is a substantial sector of the Lower Similkameen working population that have no opportunity for scheduled annual increases – and in some cases are even seeing wages reduced.
This is not a condemnation of council’s position. However, it might have been politically astute of them to empathize with their constituents by acknowledging that when it comes to wage increases for some, they understood that “fair” and “deserve” often have nothing to do with it.