After all the loud complaining I’ve done about how SCRD directors are paid (see old post), I am extremely pleased to report that the Remuneration Review Task Force reported in on Jan. 14 and we voted in favour of their key recommendations. (Report starts on page 15 of this agenda.)
Instead of being paid a confusing dog’s breakfast of stipends, per meeting pay, committee chair pay, and extra pay when meetings go longer than 3 hours, directors will receive a flat annual stipend, with rural directors receiving a higher amount in recognition of our constituency workload. (I formerly received 4% of my pay for 50% of my work; under the new system I’ll get more like 30% of the pay for 50% of the work.)
It’s still not a living wage, but it’s a huge improvement. It reduces the administrative burden on staff, makes budgeting straightforward, is consistent and predictable for directors (I’ll actually know what I’m going to be paid from week to week!) and is transparent to the public. The total cost is approximately the same as the old system.
That said, our compensation is not high enough to allow most people to run for public office, especially younger people. Being elected comes with a lot of public exposure, a high level of responsibility, and a heavy workload. This is true across the province. Remuneration for local politicians has not kept pace with the increasing complexity of the job and much higher public expectations around communications and engagement.
As Director Siegers pointed out, most people who run for office are self employed or retired, and that isn’t likely to change.
The task force also raised a ton of policy questions around how we conduct meetings, and we’ll be digging into that over the coming year.
A big thank you to community volunteers Amanda List, Silas White and Patricia York for taking on this review doing a great deal of work over and above the original scope.