(Pixabay photo)

LETTER: ‘Golden handshake’ not right for Delta council

“To complain, once elected, that the compensation … is inadequate is at least a little bit disingenuous”

(Re: “Delta council members to receive ‘service benefit’ for first time,” NDR Vol. 3 No. 23, June 7, 2018)

I disagree with what is the currently reported “golden handshake” for council members. I also disagree with any notion of elected officials ever approving salary or indemnity increases for themselves.

Being elected to council used to be an event affording you an enhanced opportunity to “volunteer” your services to assist your community. In the instance of being elected a municipal councilor the demands of that kind of volunteer service were recognised by you being awarded an “indemnity” to compensate you for some of the costs of that significant municipal service — differently than is the instance for people volunteering in other capacities in the community, including by sitting on various municipal committees. Somehow, however, being elected a municipal councillor has morphed into a full time, “professional” occupation — making it a “volunteer” activity no longer available to the majority of people living in the community — many of whom could contribute significantly through council activities, but who cannot devote what has become the full-time commitment required to sit in a Council chair.

That aside, when people campaign and become elected to positions on council, they should know what the circumstances they are facing will be. At a minimum they should know how they will be compensated. To complain, once elected, that the compensation — whether ongoing or in the form of a “handshake”— is inadequate is at least a little bit disingenuous.

Councillors need to accept the various features of the position they ask the municipal public to elect them to. If the compensation characteristics of that position are considered inadequate, then councillors (and mayors) should quite legitimately revise those characteristics for councils that will be elected following their current tenures.

Councillors should never consider enhancing the fiscal packages that accompany their current terms in office. Are, for instance, paramedical personnel or any other public employees allowed to render decisions that establish their own compensation packages?

The suggestion that seven other municipalities provide some sort of benefit to council members upon their departure is irrelevant. That may be a consideration if council were considering an initiative like this in the instance of future councils. The current council, however, campaigned to be elected, recognising the circumstances in place at their election. Those circumstances should prevail throughout their tenures.

-Firth Bateman, via email


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