After Vancouver city councillors voted in favour of giving themselves a raise in a meeting held last month, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is crying foul.
The raise involves a $8,900 per year pay increase for councillors, which bumps their annual salaries up to $80,000 a year.
The current annual salary for a Vancouver city councillor stands at $70,909 a year.
There is also an annual supplement of around $3,000 to make up for the lack of extended health benefits.
Green City Councillor Adriane Carr who put forward the motion says the raise is fair compared to what councillors in other cities make.
“There has not been a review of the base salaries for park board or council for two decades,” says Carr. “That was one impetus to do a check and see if the remunerations were appropriate.”
They also wanted to look into whether the formula for calculating how the councillors are being renumerated should change, taking into account best practices in other jurisdictions of similar size and complexity, as well as relevant benchmarks for compensation.
WATCH: Adriane Carr puts forward a motion to increase wages of councillors in a meeting held February 24
An independent review was conducted and delivered in December 2015 to provide recommendations that would keep councillors both on par with the average full-time working person in the city of Vancouver and in line with councillors in comparable jurisdictions.
For example, it was discovered that city councillors in the City of Calgary make $115,298 a year, while a councillor in City of Victoria makes $40,365 a year.
“It is quite a wide range, but we are basically at the median,” says Carr. “That, to me, seems like a fair figure.”
There is also a salary increase for the Park Board Commissioners and the Chair. Their salaries will essentially double.
“I am happy about that,” says Carr. “I know that the Park Board Commissioners have taken on a lot more complex issues and have put in a far greater number of hours to deal with those issues.”
But, Jordan Bateman with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the salary raise is not justified.
“Vancouver City Council came like a thief in the night, plundered more money from taxpayers and putting in their own pockets,” says Bateman.
He says the idea of comparing themselves to city councils in other cities does not work, because there is no competitive market for city councillors.
“It’s not like a job in the private sector where another private sector firm may try to poach you. No one is poaching Vancouver city councillors,” says Bateman. “It’s irrelevant what other city councillors get paid. ”
The motion to give Vancouver city councillors a raise was passed on Feb. 24, but was not publicly announced. Carr says she is not sure why the matter was not publicly reported, but in retrospect, she thinks the public should have been alerted.
Bateman says the lack of public consultation or discussion on this issue is concerning to him.
“It just suddenly happened,” he says. “Even some of the councillors are scratching their heads, wondering how this process unfolded.”
Bateman adds if a city council votes for a raise, it should be put in place for the next council that takes over, because existing councillors have already signed a contract outlying salary expectations.
It is expected the next remuneration review will happen in 2019.