Board narrowly approves raise for area directors

In a split vote, the Cowichan Valley Regional District board has decided to increase pay for electoral area directors.

“Hopefully it will encourage more people to come forward and take the lead in these jobs,” said Dir. Lori Iannidinardo.

Remuneration will be increased for the select directors by $4,022 effective Jan. 1, 2015. The board also approved providing electoral area directors with a Medical Services Plan with extended health and dental benefits, and setting a rate of $25,000 per year for the board chair in addition to their electoral or municipal director compensation.

“We’re not setting our own wage, we’re setting the wage of the next board,” said Dir. Gerry Giles, pointing out that the adjustment simply brings the compensation for electoral area directors up to the same level enjoyed by municipal representatives on the CVRD board.

“We are trying to level the playing field,” she said.

The timing, just before an election is awkward, Giles said, but there will never be a good time to vote on increasing their own pay, and the decision had already been put off since before the last municipal elections. Other directors in favour of the raise argued that directors work a large number of hours – an average of 44 hours per week – and their remuneration, with or without the increase, is small.

“We get paid very modestly,” summed up Dir. Loren Duncan.

Directors Iannidinardo and Barb Lines pointed out that part of the reason behind the boost in pay is to try to encourage young people to run for office by helping them to be able to financially afford to do so.

Directors opposed to the raise said they couldn’t stomach the idea of advocating fiscal restraint in an atmosphere where many constituents are questioning the spending of the district, while voting to increase their own pay.

In a weighted vote, directors Mike Walker, Bruce Fraser, Mary Marcotte, Phil Kent, Ruth Hartmann and Tim McGonigle were defeated by the slim majority.