Proposed task force on pay for City council falls short

Task force will crunch the numbers on pay hikes for City council. (Daily News photo)

Task force will crunch the numbers on pay hikes for City council. (Daily News photo)

Aside from the fact there’s no need for a task force to review Kamloops City council remuneration at all, the proposed terms of reference for said task force fall short on at least a couple of fronts.

However, council could easily fix them when it’s presented with the staff-generated plan at tomorrow’s regular weekly meeting.

In some respects, the outline is fine, and I do like the proviso that the five-member task force be made up of “a diverse spectrum of age, economic status, work experience and activity in different sectors of the community.” Past committees haven’t included that diversity, and I think it has tended to skew their outlook toward unpalatably high pay increases.

But one problem is in keeping the number of members to five. It’s easy to make committees too big, but keeping them overly small also creates problems. In this case, that “diverse spectrum” recommended for the task force will be very difficult to achieve with just five members. Eight or 10 would be better.

Just as troubling is the lack of provision for any public input to or even public observation of the task force’s proceedings. In fact, just the opposite. The rules of procedure proposed by staff include a behind-closed-doors mode of operation. Discussions and votes by the task force “shall be in confidence” and there is to be no public discussion of the task force’s recommendations before they’re presented to council in a report later this year.

This doesn’t seem to absolutely preclude the committee from being pro-active in getting public input, but certainly doesn’t require it nor encourage it. The outline says only, “The Task Force is permitted to use a variety of resources and techniques to complete their review, including but not limited to: research and review of current trends and approaches used to set remuneration levels for Elected Officials; conducting interviews with persons thought to be appropriate; review of existing policies; and discussions with municipal staff to gather technical information and date.”

The task force could, in theory, use the “not limited to” or maybe “conducting interviews” clause to set up, for example, a public hearing on council pay, as long as it didn’t make any comment on the matter itself.

Doesn’t seem good enough on an issue that is such a perennial hot button, especially when mayor and council give themselves a giant pat on the back in their Annual Report (which will presented at tomorrow’s meeting as well) for what a fine job they’re doing on transparency and public engagement.

But then, as I say, all of the above could be quite easily fixed with just a few amendments at tomorrow’s meeting. Let’s wait and see if it happens.

About Mel Rothenburger (7768 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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