Thompson-Nicola Regional District board directors voted themselves pay raises on Thursday, but the decision was not unanimous and included plenty of debate.
Before the final vote, Area P director Mel Rothenburger tried to amend the pay raise so it is adjusted to 2018 rates, plus a 2.7 per cent increase as per the consumer price index.
His motion was supported by a number of directors, including Kamloops councillors Dale Bass and Arjun Singh and Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell, though it was defeated.
“Who here is in it for the money? That’s not what it’s about,” Rothenburger said.
The board eventually voted to give itself a pay raise, upon which time director David Laird asked if any of the opposed directors wished to oppose their remuneration increase.
No immediate responses were forthcoming and TNRD CAO Sukh Gill said directors can come forward at a later time, should they wish to bow out of the pay raise.
Those opposed to the pay raise included Bass and fellow Kamloops councillors Singh and Kathy Sinclair, Rothenburger, Blackwell and Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian and Kamloops Coun. Mike O’Reilly were among directors who voted in favour of the pay raise.
Rothenburger made motion asking for investigation of electronic voting as there is no official tabulation of votes at TNRD meetings, which feature more than 20 directors.
During a committee of the whole meeting in February, the board approved sending a revision of its remuneration bylaw to a board meeting.
Electoral area directors will see a 19-per-cent increase (to $23,700 from $19,875 in 2018), while municipal directors (including the five Kamloops council members on the board) will get an 11-per-cent increase (to $14,400 from $13,028).
In addition, the board chair, Kamloops-area resident Ken Gillis, will receive an increase of 18 per cent (to $46,300 from $39,100), while vice-chair Bill Kershaw of Area O (Lower North Thompson will see an increase of 27 per cent (to $28,200 from $22,213).
Per meeting pay will also increase to $160 from $150 and there is also the addition of emergency response pay, at $160 per meeting.
There is also an increase in the per-kilometre travel rate, to 58 cents from 55 cents.
The regional district bases its remuneration on nine surrounding regional districts, some of which raised their wages to compensate for federal legislative changes eliminating a tax break for politicians.
Based on that, TNRD’s remuneration was determined to be below average.
Singh called the issue of political pay raises an “awkward process” and suggested a committee be struck to deal with the issue.
“If we had a way of actually engaging with the community on this, there would still be opposition, but to me there would be a better process,” he said.
Rice said as a farmer of more than 30 years, he needs the money and said he is “offended” by the fact it is implied all directors are in the same financial situation.
“We’re doing the right thing already as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Bass said she is in a position that she does not need the pay raise, though she understands some people do need the money.
She called it a “lose-lose discussion” being that directors cannot be paid differently.
Gill, however, clarified that remark, noting it is possible to create differing pay for regional district directors.