Council raise too extravagant

Re: Council votes for 24-per cent raise, Sept. 22.

To the Editor,

Re: Council votes for 24-per cent raise, Sept. 22.

Council’s decision to give itself a 24-per cent raise supposes that improving remuneration will raise the calibre of candidates, and thus, presumably, the calibre of council.

The irony of this assertion seems to have escaped councillors.

Not discussed was the compromise with higher salaries represented by a reduced workload. We are electing the board of our corporation, not its managers.

If council were to stick to its policy, procedure and monitoring role and get out of their participation in the various operations-oriented advisory committees, commissions, boards, review panels and working groups, which have expanded to fill their time.

The city’s website identifies 14 such groups, with 159 members (not counting city staff, who advise these groups, nor those who record these meetings). Twenty-six of these positions are filled by councillors.

Trying to keep up with these groups is a daunting task. I would also hold that it is not particularly productive.

We should let our appointed volunteers work with city staff to develop their recommendations, which council can then approve or deny without prejudice.

Although I recognize that ‘This is Nanaimo’, I suggest examining the candidates information provided by Yakima, Wash., population 91,000.

It clearly sets out the role of a councillor and indicates that the expectation of time for the job is 15 to 20 hours per week.

An examination of Nanaimo’s council calendar for 2011 indicates that there are 50 legislatively required meetings.  This works out to about one meeting per week of, let’s say, three hours.

This leaves 12-17 hours per week for other necessary activities such as reading agendas, asking questions, consulting with citizens and examining the operations documents from staff, who determine whether the desired policies and procedures are being appropriately implemented.

Councillors need time to have a life as much as they need more money.

Ron Bolin

Nanaimo