Every so often, the topic of stipends and benefits for municipal politicians comes up. Right now, several Okanagan municipalities are in the process of reviewing salaries.
It’s also topical with the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Quebec City and the release of the “Sunshine List” in Summerland.
Last year, nearly every city and town in the valley adjusted their pay to compensate for the loss of a federal tax break for municipal politicians.
Here’s an original idea. Pay the municipal politicians zero — or close to zero — or double their honorariums.
Here’s the rationale.
Let’s not beat around the bush, some who run for office need a job. Although it’s never been mandatory for city councillors or school board trustees to declare their taxes, some, we suspect, do it to pad their income. Some candidates don’t seem to have jobs.
By making council a volunteer job, everyone would be there for the right reasons — love of community the desire to serve. It’s less likely that elected officials would take nearly as much grief from the public if they were volunteers.
The drawback is city councils would be mostly comprised of seniors because they’re the ones with time to devote. (They also come from the generation of volunteer, not volun-told.)
On the opposite side, if salaries were doubled, then we might finally attract some qualified candidates.
In the good old 1960s and 1970s, when the job required only a few hours per week (before bureaucracy went crazy), it wasn’t uncommon for a medical doctor, lawyer or business leader to run for town council or the school board.
Unfortunately, if a lawyer or doctor shuts their office down for an afternoon, it would be a financial sacrifice, not to mention a burden on their patients and clients.
Perhaps doubling the stipend would result in more quality candidates coming forward. They could justify the time sacrifice if the stipend was worthwhile.
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Thanks to our loyal subscribers and readers for their acceptance of our new structure where the Monday print newspaper has been eliminated in favour of extended online coverage plus an internet radio station.
You may have noticed a beefed- up Tuesday edition complete with a second crossword and extra comics.
The Okanagan TV Guide, a popular feature with many of our readers, will now be inserted on Fridays.
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