Story by Jessica Wallace, Kamloops This Week

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board opted against a pay raise last year, but is revisiting the idea again.

TNRD chief financial officer Doug Rae suggested a 2.8 per cent increase to the board’s base salary, as well as increasing the per meeting pay rate to $170 from $160, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Remuneration of board directors, based on 2020 figures, the most recent available, range from $15,500 for Kamloops Coun. Dieter Dudy to $50,000 for board chair Ken Gillis.

Rae told KTW the base salary is paid for holding office, but directors are paid the extra per meeting stipend for about 26 regular and committee of the whole meetings annually, which equates to an average of $4,200 more per director per year.

Baked into that base salary is travel time, depending on from where directors are coming.

Rae is proposing to separate out that travel pay due to the advent of Zoom meetings during the pandemic, in order to prevent it from being paid to directors participating from home. Directors can also claim mileage for use of their vehicle and gas at a rate of 59 cents per kilometre, which would jump to 61 cents per kilometre.

During a committee of the whole meeting on Friday (Feb. 25), board members debated whether to scrap the pay raise for another year.

Area E (Bonaparte Plateau) director Sally Watson said raises should go to people doing good work.

“Lately, the public has noticed we haven’t been doing good work and I would say we don’t deserve a raise,” she said.

Area J (Copper Desert Country) director Ronaye Elliott, however, said people in her area just west of Kamloops are happy with TNRD services and work being done. She opposed forgoing the pay raise.

TNRD vice-chair and Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden cautioned against putting the next board in a more difficult position playing catch-up on wages in its first months in office. However, Area P (Peaks and Valleys) director Mel Rothenburger argued the board deserves to be paid what it deserves to be paid.

“Who says the next board has to catch up?” he asked. “What are we catching up to? … Either they’re getting paid fairly or not, never mind what everybody else is getting.”

Kamloops Coun. Kathy Sinclair moved that the board, at its next regular meeting, consider adopting the remuneration bylaw changes discussed in the committee of the whole meeting, minus the pay and meeting rate increases.

Twelve directors were opposed and eight directors were in favour.

In favour were Rothenburger, Sinclair, Watson, Kamloops Coun. Dieter Dudy, Kamloops Coun. Mike O’Reilly, Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine, Area Area I (Blue Sky Country) director Steven Rice and Cache Creek Mayor Santo Talarico.

Opposed were Elliott, Roden, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian, alternate director Kurt Christopherson, Chase Mayor Rod Crowe, TNRD chair and Area L (Grasslands) director Ken Gillis, Area N (Nicola Valley South) director Herb Graham, Area O (Lower North Thompson) director Bill Kershaw, Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman, Area B (Thompson Headwaters) director Stephen Quinn, Area A (Wells Gray Country) director Carol Schaffer and Logan Lake Mayor Robin Smith.

Kamloops councillors Dale Bass and Arjun Singh, Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer and Clinton Mayor Susan Swan were absent from the vote, while Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell did not vote.

Two directors (Elliott and Schaffer) then tried to make a motion to keep the per meeting rate the same, at $160, while increasing base salary. However, it breached Robert’s Rules of Order.

The board then voted in favour of the recommendation, which will see changes to per diems and the pay raise come back to the board in a bylaw.

Opposed were Raine, Rice, Sinclair and Watson.

The remuneration bylaw revisions will return to the board at a future meeting for adoption.