Task force recommends significant increases to Revelstoke mayor, council pay

Three-person task force appointed to look into Revelstoke municipal council remuneration returns a number of recommendations, including increases in compensation, which were supported by council

Revelstoke City Hall. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

A committee formed to look into Revelstoke city council pay has recommended a significant raise for mayor and councillors in the City of Revelstoke, coming into effect after the Oct. 15, 2022 election.

The Council Remuneration Task Force report has recommended a 33% increase for the mayor position, from $36,000 to $48,000.

The committee also recommended a 45% increase for city councillors from $16,600 to $24,000.

At council’s July 26, 2022 meeting, the committee presented its report, which stated its guiding principles were fiscal responsibility, community representation, and fair remuneration.

The 13-page report recommends the increases, deliberating on a number of factors, including similar community comparisons, living wage considerations, and the inclusion benefits and reimbursements.

The report made 10 recommendations including an ongoing annual increase equal to the Consumer Price Index, keeping the existing expense policy, adding child care expenses up to $20 per hour, an option for group health benefits.

It also recommended deducting $200 per council meeting missed after four absences in a year.

The report also recommended a review of council remuneration every eight years, and adopting a policy that council only review remuneration for the next council, not the sitting council.

The report recommends the raises come into effect soon after the October 15 B.C. General Local Elections, when all B.C. mayors, regional district directors, and school board elected official positions are up for election.

The task force report said it weighted its recommendations based on population, municipal revenue, tax base, land area, and the fact the community collects the Municipal and Regional District Tax.

In addition to council remuneration, the mayor also receives $12,000 for sitting as the City of Revelstoke representative on the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board of directors; the CSRD appointment has traditionally been filled by the Revelstoke mayor, although a councillor can fill the position.

Next steps

At the July 26 meeting, council voted unanimously to support the task force recommendations. Staff will take the report and convert it into formal recommendations for council at one point.

The B.C. General Local Elections are on Oct. 15, 2022, when all mayor, council, school board, and regional district elected positions across B.C. come up for election.

Watch the committee’s presentation and council discussion

At the July 26 meeting, the mayor and council generally commended the committee on the report, saying it was well done. The video below is cued to the start of the discussion:

Background: New plan follows big controversy

In late 2019 and early 2020, a proposal to raise council pay during budget discussions (to $70,000 for the mayor and to $25,000 for councillors, over several steps) led to the resignation of Coun. Steven Cross, a major crisis for council, who then backed off of the plan.

That council pay increase plan was ill conceived. The oral discussion originated from councillors in budget committee meetings without any formal reports. The plan shifted in debates over several meetings and eventually blew up with Coun. Cross’s resignation, which drew intense scrutiny of the pay raise plan in the community.

In October 2021, council opted to explore the pay raise issue again, opting to form a special three-person task force to prepare a report.

Later in the year, the city advertised for committee members, but the deadline passed with fewer than three applying.

Eventually, three volunteers were mustered in March of 2022. The committee members were Stuart Andrews, Miranda Murphy, and Steven Cross – the latter being the councillor who resigned over the pay raise issue.

The final remuneration report was tabled over a week into the pre-election period, which began on July 18, 2022.

Provincial mayor and council pay

The recommended remuneration would put Revelstoke mayor and council at the high end of remuneration for similar sized communities in B.C. A recent CBC report polled municipalities across B.C., finding a high correlation between population size and remuneration.

Generally speaking, small towns have small remuneration packages reflective of the part-time nature of the work.

As the town size increases, so does remuneration. Larger municipalities offer compensation packages that reflect the full-time nature of the positions. However, there is variability across the spectrum.

According to the CBC report, the increase will put both the Revelstoke mayor and councillors’ remuneration the third-highest in what was defined in the report as the Kootenay region, behind Cranbrook and Nelson respectively.

The report also found there was a lot of variability in how municipalities go about deciding elected officials’ remuneration.

Staff remuneration report

Mayor and council remuneration is far below city staff pay. This year, 31 staff members earned more than $75,000. Once a staff members’ pay exceeds that threshold, the city is required to list the staff member’s compensation on its annual Statement of Financial information (SOFI) report. The city’s top earner was city engineering director Steve Black, who received $140,670. A full list of senior staff compensation above is available on page 40 of the SOFI report (link to City of Revelstoke 2022 SOFI report).

The City of Revelstoke is currently without a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO); Ron Mattiussi is interim CAO, and the city has hired a consulting firm to recruit a new CAO, which would be its fourth CAO this term, in addition to Mattiussi, who has been hired as interim CAO twice, filling in after the departure of the second and third CAOs.

Council candidate information session planned

A group including former councillors is organizing a council information session aimed at demystifying the role of councillor, hoping to encourage people run for council. The event is on Aug. 17 at 5 p.m. at the Revelstoke Community and Aquatic Centre. In conversations with revelstokemountaineer.com, the former councillors said the informal group hoped to stoke interest and answer questions from those interested in seeking office.

Nobody has contacted revelstokemountaineer.com declaring they are seeking election or re-election, and to the best of our knowledge, nobody has made any public-facing declaration they are seeking election. In many other communities in B.C., especially larger ones, candidates declared their intentions over the past months and have been actively campaigning, although it does vary from place to place.

For those interested in running, the Elections B.C. General Local Elections webpage has information and packages for candidates, and the City of Revelstoke has published a webpage on its website dedicated to the election process, including document packages.

Key election dates

July 18: Pre-election period began; local third-party advertising rules came into effect.

Aug. 2: Elector organization registration deadline.

Aug. 30–Sept. 9: Nomination period. The period for candidates to submit their nominations to local election officials.

Sept. 17–Oct. 15: Campaign period. The period that begins on the 28th day before General Voting Day and ends at the close of voting on General Voting Day. Candidate and third party expense limits apply during this period.

Oct. 15: General voting day.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.