Nelson council rejects review of mayor’s salary

Mayor Dooley proposed that $10,000 of his pay be put in trust and a review undertaken

Nelson council has voted down a resolution put forward this week by Mayor John Dooley that would see a review of his salary during his current term.

Dooley proposed that $10,000 of his pay be put in trust and that staff be asked to review how the previous council decided last August to increase the mayor’s salary by that amount.

But a majority of council at Tuesday’s meeting didn’t want to vote on the wages of anyone at the table including the mayor, and they didn’t want to delve into the details of the previous council decision.

At its previous meeting on Dec. 3, council gave staff the job of coming up with a new policy and procedure for deciding on council salaries. That review is due at the council table in a year for approval. The policy would apply to the next council, to be elected in 2022.

Related: Procedure for Nelson council pay increases to be reviewed

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Dooley attempted to add another layer to that review by having management staff review his salary, effective not for the next mayor but for Dooley at the end of 2019.

This would have required the present council to vote on the salary of one of its own, and Councillor Brittny Anderson wanted no part of that.

“I don’t want us to be hashing out our own salaries or those of our colleagues. I thought the intention was just to review the process,” Anderson said.

“I don’t want to vote on my salary and I don’t want to vote on your salary. It is totally inappropriate.”

In August, when the previous council was deciding on council salaries for the next term, an outside committee recommended that the mayor’s salary should go up from $42,011 to $49,500. When the committee’s recommendation came to the council table at the time, council decided to add another $10,000, resulting in the current mayor salary of $59,500.

Anderson said she wants the mayor to either accept the salary of $59,500 that the previous council gave him, “or the $10,000 should be taken off the table.”

City manager Kevin Cormack pointed out that taking it off the table would mean she would have to vote on the mayor’s pay because $59,500 is now officially Dooley’s salary.

Related: Nelson council gives next council a raise

Dooley wants the additional $10,000 reviewed because he thinks it was excessive and no rationale was given for it.

“We need to find out why that $10,000 was added,” Dooley said. “What was their justification? It does not sit well with me that there was no background presented to support it. I didn’t like the process.”

Councillor Cal Renwick spoke in favour of Dooley’s proposed salary review. He said the public is not concerned about the increase the previous council gave to the councillors, but the mayor’s salary increase has caused some raised eyebrows.

“As a taxpayer I would look at this and say good for you, you are saving us a few bucks,” he said.

Councillor Keith Page was against the review.

“This does not sit well with me because this is something we should discuss at end of term. I would like to remove any perception of conflict of interest and I would respectfully ask that we close this issue down and leave things as they were. I don’t want to keep burrowing into a decision made by a previous council.”

Councillor Rik Logtenberg spoke in favour of statements by Dooley and Renwick, saying the mayor’s salary belongs to him and he can do what he wants with it. But he eventually voted against the motion to review the salary.

Logtenberg suggested that Dooley could donate $10,000 per year back to the city and receive a charitable tax receipt.

The only votes in favour of the salary review came from Dooley and Renwick. Councillor Janice Morrison was absent.

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