Budget deliberations are in full swing for Golden Town Council, and a few changes have already been added to the municipality’s financial plan.
After a discussion about the amount of expectations and time commitment placed on the mayor and council, to separate motions were passed to increase the compensation they receive.
“I think the mayor’s wage is not high enough,” said Coun. Bruce Fairley, who originally opened the discussion with a motion to increase the mayor’s stipend by $10,000 a year.
“It really comes down to a recruitment issue, and attracting good people.”
The mayor’s remuneration was set at $20,000 by bylaw, and Fairley moved that it be increased to $30,000. The reason being that with the amount of time a mayor has to spend away from his or her job makes it financially difficult to take on the role, therefore limiting the number of people who could do it. Mayoral compensation for 20 communities with similar populations range from $12,000 to $32,000.
“None of us are here for the money, that’s obvious,” added Fairley. The resolution was passed unanimously.
Later on in the meeting Coun. Eddie Leigan, although clearly uncomfortable bringing it up, suggested that councillor stipends are also deserving of an increase. As a small business owner, and the youngest member of council at 23, Leigan says he finds it difficult to be away from his business as much as he is.
He motioned that council remuneration be increased from $10,000 to $13,000, leaving a larger gap between what a councillor and what a mayor makes.
“I’m fortunate that I am able to do this, but with the wage being so low it makes it hard, especially for people my age,” said Leigan.
The motion received unanimous support. The Town bylaw will have to be amended before the changes take effect for both mayor and council.
Council also discussed what to do with the $275,000 that was freed up in the budget after the Town of Golden and the CSRD allocated money from the Economic Opportunities Fund to go towards operations at the swimming pool. Given that this one-time influx of funds was intended to provide budget relief for the recreation department, the decision was made to put the funds into a general recreation reserve.
Other changes included a $2,500 commitment towards the Golden and District Air Quality Committee for 2015, which will increase to $5,000 annually for the following four years. The offering to the committee is intended to show the municipality’s appreciation to them for their efforts with this environmental issue that affects the whole community.
There was also a reallocation of $20,000 towards a grant in aid program. The funds were already in the budget for a social co-ordinator position that was never filled. The method of distribution for these grant funds will be decided on at a later date.