No pay raise for council – for now

Fort St. John’s city councilors won’t be getting a raise. At least, not yet.

At Monday’s regular meeting, council voted to postpone altering their pay structure, pending more research on best-practice policies from other communities.

That information should be received within the next few months – and council has to make a final decision by May 15th at the latest in order to incorporate it into next year’s budget.

The raise would have seen councillors receive an extra $1,138, or 6.2 per cent, while Mayor Lantz would get an extra 3,713, or 5.5 per cent.

That was based on a comparison with other northern communities, using a mathematical structure based on population.

New Mayor Bruce Lantz was against the proposed raises, as was new Councilor Trevor Bolin. Both suggested it would be tough to vote for a raise so soon after taking office, as well as pointing to the current worldwide economic downturn as a reason to limit spending increases.

Mayor Lantz said the city may well be in a position, in the spring, in which it is forced to ask residents to tighten their belts. If so, he argued it would be hypocritical of councilors to be granting themselves a raise.

Fort St. John’s councilors have been receiving raises averaging roughly $1,000, in each of the past 5 years, while the Mayor has received an average raise of slightly more than $2,000.

And so, council will now await the results of staff research, and will revisit the issue in the next few months.