Mayor and council to vote on new compensation and benefits for elected officials

FORT ST. JOHN– Mayor and council are expected to receive a commissioned report recommending the mayor’s base salary be raised three per cent and council members’ base salaries be bumped to 40 per cent of the mayors.

The municipal compensation and benefits review, commissioned by the city and performed by a third party human resources firm, compared current salaries and benefits provided to elected officials of the city with other municipalities, or a series of 28 benchmark communities in B.C. and Alberta. 

The collection of benchmark communities allows the city, as well as the HR firm investigating compensation on its behalf, to form statistics based on the sample of municipalities in the region that the communities present.

The review found that the mayor of Fort St. John’s base salary is five per cent higher than average for a mayor in the benchmark communities. The salary is also at the median (or middle of the range) for mayors in the communities studied.

It suggests that the mayor’s salary be raised three per cent, effective July 1st to December 31st, 2022. This puts the mayoral salary in Fort St. John slightly above the median salary in the benchmark communities.

The benchmark communities, however, are chosen on a variety of factors including population, overall revenue, expenses, and annual working hours among others. Not all the communities have full-time mayors like Fort St. John.

When the statistics representing part time mayors in smaller municipalities are removed, the city’s remuneration for its top office is below the average by two per cent and the median by three per cent. 

The city’s policy caps annual increases to remuneration at three per cent, where other cities in the report tie remuneration to increases in the consumer price index— at +6.7 per cent in B.C. this April. The report says this raise reflects changes in economic conditions.

The review also examined the base salaries of council members in comparison with other municipalities. While the mayor’s salary is five per cent above average, the council salaries are five per cent below average, and nine per cent below the median in the statistics provided in the report.

It recommends that councillors salaries be raised 2.5 per cent, from 37.5 per cent of the mayor’s salary to 40 per cent. The median percentage of council salary to their mayor is 40 per cent. This range brings councillors into the median of council salaries in similar cities.

The report also recommends several changes to benefits, retirement, and other perks for elected officials in the city. These additions align with what other municipalities are doing and will help attract people considering a run for office.

One of these changes is doubling the current Health and Wellness Allowance from $500 to $1,000. 

The report also recommends offering an ongoing retirement allowance, starting with a four per cent top up added to the official’s salary and increased during the duration of the individual’s time in office by 0.5 per cent per year, capped at eight per cent.

Another potential perk is a professional development allowance of $2,000 per elected official in addition to the current provision for conference attendance. The report notes that this will attract younger professionals to run for and hold public office in the city.

The report also suggests adding an allowance for auto insurance premiums for each elected official every month.

Mayor and council will vote on the changes recommended in the report and by city staff in the regular council meeting on Monday, June 27th.

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