Saturday, March 26, 2016

Not So Fast City Councillors ----- 3.5% Increase??

Another $1189.00 as 'Acting Mayor' ???

At the March 21 Council meeting a new spending and amenities policy was adopted by city council. The whole document was a late agenda item with no prior public notice of the document or it's content. City manager Ms Samra stated that it was necessary to bring this document into force immediately as there was urgency to do so. There was no further explanation as to the reason for urgency, but anyone watching city hall of late can speculate.

Included in the document was provision for compensation for the role of 'Acting Mayor' which amounts to another $1189.00/yr. for each councillor. This is about a 3.5% wage increase, which is a nice increase if you can get it. This is fair compensation, for added duties, only if the position of Councillor was based on hours of participation. For example a Councillor who takes on the work of multiple committees and arguably commits more hours than a fellow Councillor does not receive added income.

There is a difference of involvement based on time available, for example a retired Councillor has more hours at their disposal than the Councillor holding down a full time job. The Councillor willing and able to commit more time to the position is not, and should not be paid more than a fellow councillor. This job is not your typical 9 - 5 where you expect a certain rate for every hour worked. It is a job which primarily should be based in a desire to serve ones community.

When members of this council agreed to run for the office they knew what their compensation package was going to be and did not have an itemized list of what their duties would entail, nor how many hours would be required of them. They agreed to do the job of a City Councillor to the best of their abilities. Those of us who watch council recognize that clearly some have more time to devote than others which is apparent when it comes to how well informed they are on issues put before them at a council meeting. Some councillors have done their research on an issue, while others seem to be deciding based only on input at the council meeting. Both are paid the same salary.

Duties of 'Acting Mayor'

Not being an expert of the Community Charter, nor the Municipal Act this is only the opinion of this pathetic blogger, but it occurs to me that having the 'acting mayor' attend functions with the Mayor raises some questions, if that should in fact happen. 

I presume that the 'Acting Mayor' fills in for the Mayor when the Mayor cannot be in attendance at a specific civic function. That function could be chairing a meeting of Council, or cutting a ribbon at some civic event. That has always been the role on a rotational basis of members of Council. That has never triggered additional compensation. Why now?

I suspect this whole action has been precipitated by the public call by seven councillors for the Mayor's resignation. On March 16 an official city press release claimed the following reasons that 7 Councillors were calling for the Mayor's resignation:
  • Mayor McKay’s poor attendance at Council meetings. He has attended only 18 meetings out of a total of 29 over the past three months.
  • Mayor McKay has failed to respond to questions posed to him by Council and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for nearly three months, a requirement under the Community Charter.
  • Mayor McKay made repeated attempts to remove the CAO from her position as interim CAO, including threats to dissolve Council.
  • Mayor McKay has failed to carry forward the wishes of the majority of Council on a number of key issues, thereby undermining the majority Council vote.
It was clear based on the Mayor's statement at the last Council meeting that he has no intentions of resigning. Given the current question of whether or not the Mayor has authorized legal and consulting work at taxpayer expense, without the approval of Council just adds to the intrigue as to what is actually at play here.

Councillor compensation should be a public matter

I am not in the camp that thinks our Councillors are over paid, to the contrary I think they are under paid. That said, they ran for the job, knowing the compensation. The rate of pay is not based on hours of performance. 

There was no need to include the increased compensation as a last minute, late agenda item with no prior public notice. If there is a need for urgency of other items then the added compensation item should have been severed and brought up for debate at open council at a future date.

Giving yourself a 3.5% wage increase with no public input, is simply bad optics and does not represent the open, transparent governance we thought we elected in 2014.



  1. As you said Jim, Councillors have never been compensated for the additional duties that they might do as Acting Mayor and we know that to be true. I would also put out there though that if you there is no compensation there is clearly no obligation or expectation beyond that the Councillor will volunteer his time if he wants to. Once there is a monetary figure that will be paid for the duties it is far less likely that one will not do them. That does not mean they all will as evidenced by our current Mayor and how he views his obligations given the compensation he receives but for the majority of people it does provide an incentive, which is all that can be achieved in this situation.

  2. jim - thanks for the opinion piece.. i don't believe it is good optics to refer to yourself as 'this pathetic blogger' either. i think you do good work in running your blog and sharing the information that you do... i would re-word your article to reflect this...

    now, onto your article.. i posted an article on the previous post earlier today which has yet to show up, so i will post it here again -

    i think it addresses much of the same content as you do, but from a slightly different angle.. frankly the actions of city council here reflect very badly on them and the city manager ms samra.. perhaps this would go some ways to explaining a number of issues that have captured the nanaimo publics attention.. they surely won't go unnoticed!

  3. I agree with you Jim. The optics of the extra money is terrible for council. I have expressed this to them. I would suggest that each council member reflelect on this issue and if they so choose either excuse themselves from the payments (not take it) or donate it to a community charity. Or if they so chose. Keep it. As council is locked in a struggle with our part time mayor, I am sure his decreasing group of supporters will use the optics to denegrade council members. Remember that this policy and the increase are being put in place because the mayor is running around like a loose cannon. Doing whatever he wants and expecting the taxpayer to pick up the bill. He fails to show up almost half the time and fails in his duties as the mayor. Having someone take his place should fall back on him. If he isn't going to do his job. Dock his pay by the amount being paid by the taxpayers to cover his ass. Along with the allegations of bullying and harassing, making detrimental statements, emabarasshing the city at functions, his failure to complete his duties is perhaps the most harmful. Bill McKay has created this mess. Plain and simple. Council cannot be blamed for not putting up with childish, self serving behaviour and nor should the taxpayer. There is no excuse and he deserves no sympathy. I certainly hope that with the investigations going on at this time enough will come to light to throw this laggard from office. The taxpayers and citizens deserve a mayor not a town clown.

    1. If Mayor McKay is missing 40% of meetings, as is being stated, then find a way to dock him 40% of his pay cheque and spread that amount amongst the other councilors shadowing / pulling up the slack.


    2. kevin, you're repeating what you've said previously.. an allegation is just that - an allegation.. unless it's backed up with something concrete, one of it's primary uses is to negate someone without providing concrete evidence.. i read your comments here as displaying a lack of objectivity or neutrality and instead showing an attachment to a particular conclusion based on allegations only.. that is 'the optics' of your post as i read it..

  4. My understanding of this compensation for Acting Mayor is that it is already budgeted as part of the Mayoral compensation. Isn't that what Tracy Samra explained?
    I suspect the refusal to attend in camera meetings without a Lawyer, is the action that triggered this at the last minute. If this refusal has caused a greater workload for the other Councilors, this might be a valid way to circumvent some procedural nonsense. I do have another concern however and that is the dignity of the office, I am very proud of our city and would appreciate the Acting Mayor dressing the part appropriately, especially when attending public events on behalf of the City of Nanaimo. Is this an unfair expectation? I know clothing does not make the person, however John Ruttan and Bill MacKay each set a proud standard of professionalism befitting a Mayor and that was a nice change from the time prior to them. Patricia Grand

  5. Great article - very fair and balanced. Agree with pretty much everything!

  6. I would like to know the exact words that were said by the Mayor to City Manager Tracy Samras that constitute bullying. Since this was purportedly witnessed by 7 councillors, there should be no doubt as to the exact words that were said. Loud swearing by citizen Robert Fuller has been said at a Council meeting, at the horror of this bullying, but we have never heard the details of it. Why not? Many, many people are riled up about the actions of Mayor Mckay, but in a civil society, in a court of law. both sides have a right to be heard IN DETAIL. As for defending the fair sex, I have not heard the great chivalry of the knights of shining armour in any other situation. Far from it. - Madeline A. Bruce.


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