Local politicians are not booking month-long Hawaiian vacations with the money they make at the council table, let’s be clear about that from the start.
For most of the town and city councillors in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, the pay is akin to what one would receive for a part-time job. And it’s meant to be that way.
Where it gets a little wonky, as we learned when each community released its Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) last week, is when one looks at the difference in what each community pays its elected officials (see story, this edition).
Roughly a third of what each councillor gets paid is tax free. In Qualicum Beach, a town councillor is paid $21,000/year. In Parksville approximately $14,000/year.
If a Qualicum Beach town councillor worked 20 hours a week on council business for 50 weeks of the year, they are being paid $21/hour. The Parksville councillor working the same amount: $14/hour.
There are greater considerations when studying the pay for councillors, we get that. Some believe they should be paid more, surmising that somehow that would attract better quality candidates. One could argue that has not exactly been proven true at senior levels of government where MLAs and MPs are paid in excess of $120,000/year.
Push all those considerations aside for today. And lets not even raise the salary issues related to the mayor’s position, where Qualicum Beach’s mayor makes slightly more than Parksville’s. What we don’t understand is the disparity between the pay packages for the elected officials of the two communities.
Logic would suggest the larger the community, the more issues to deal with at the council table, more staff to direct, generally more responsibility and liability. A City of Victoria councillor, for example, gets paid $40,000/year.
Parksville is larger than Qualicum Beach. It has a much longer list of staff.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of one community’s councils (Qualicum Beach), over the years, being sure to give the next group coming in a raise, while the other (Parksville) has not made that a priority. Perhaps, with presumably many more people drawing pensions from decades of work in taxpayer-funded careers, Qualicum Beach folk are more comfortable with taxpayer-funded salaries. Still, the disparity remains a curious one.
— Editorial by John Harding