West Van council votes itself 15 per cent raise

Salaries are heading north for West Vancouver mayor and council.

Council unanimously voted to give themselves a 15 per cent raise effective Dec. 1 at their Dec. 4 meeting.

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For Mayor Michael Smith that translates into an extra $12,856 per year, bringing his salary to $97,335.

Smith, who expressed misgivings about accepting a raise in 2012, seemed to take this pay hike in stride.

“All false modesty aside, the honoraria for the Mayor of West Vancouver represents probably the greatest use of tax dollars you can possibly imagine,” he said, drawing laughs from many in attendance.

The municipality’s six councillors will each see a $5,143 bump, bringing their annual wages to $38,934.

The hike represents the first sizable pay increase for mayor and council since 2014 – a point underlined by Coun. Nora Gambioli.

“Taxpayers have benefited for three years by gaining our valuable services for a really, really good deal,” she said.

Coun. Craig Cameron agreed.

“It looks like we’re taking a big chunk when the reality is we’ve just sat on it for years,” he said.

Council salaries in West Vancouver have risen 77 per cent since the spring of 2012, when council voted to give themselves their first raise in nearly a decade.

The extra money should help attract mayor and council candidates who represent the breadth of West Vancouver, said Coun. Mary-Ann Booth.

“It’s not just retired people, it’s not just wealthy people, it’s also single moms (and) young people. We have to reflect our community,” she said. “It’s shouldn’t be a financial test as to whether you can run for council.”

Coun. Bill Soprovich noted his salary has more than doubled since he was earning $15,000 a year when he was first elected in 1996.

West Vancouver’s mayor and council generally earn less than their counterparts in New Westminster, Maple Ridge, and the City and District of North Vancouver.

“We – for some reason that we agreed to a number of years ago -– will still be the lowest comparator,” Gambioli said.

City of North Vancouver council unanimously voted themselves a 2.17 pay raise at their Dec. 11 meeting.

For Mayor Darrell Mussatto that hike means an annual salary of $107,185. The mayor has also spent $9,552 in annual vehicle allowance in 2016 and 2017. City councillors are set to earn $37,078 in 2018. However, each councillor is set to pick up an extra $2,700 for two months spent as acting mayor.

The wage hike in the city is based on a formula that incorporates the Consumer Price Index as well as the wages of workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

District of North Vancouver council voted themselves a 1.2 per cent raise in May, bringing Mayor Richard Walton’s salary to $101,796.

District of North Vancouver councillors earn approximately $40,718 annually, although the figures fluctuate depending on the time each councillor spends as acting mayor.

Remuneration will likely be “reviewed shortly” in the District of North Vancouver although no date has been set, according to district strategic communications manager Mairi Welman.

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