A bylaw to increase salaries for the next Whitehorse city council made it through tense first and second readings Monday night, but just barely.
Council was deeply divided on whether to allow the bylaw to continue as it is currently written.
The Corporate Services Committee has recommended increasing the mayor’s salary from $87,942 to $100,100, and councillors’ salaries from $20,496 to $36,036.
The salary increases are a result of variety of factors.
New rules at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) mean government incomes are fully taxable. In the past, a portion was exempt from income tax. City staff first proposed an increase to keep take-home incomes the same as the present mayor and council.
Councillors pay compared to similar cities
Staff also conducted a review to gauge whether the Whitehorse mayor’s salary is on par with other full-time mayors in similar western cities like Yellowknife, Fort St. John and Campbell River.
Staff reported to council that the current mayor’s salary is on par with the average of $86,596, but Whitehorse councillors are underpaid — similar part-time councillors tend to make around 36 per cent of the mayor’s salary, Whitehorse councillors only make 23 per cent.
City staff argued that bumping up salaries to the proposed amounts would correct that issue, and attract the best candidates for the future council.
The bylaw would also see salaries increase in 2020 and 2021, by applying the average Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Whitehorse.
Not all councillors in favour
Not all councillors were convinced it was the right way to go.
Councillors Dan Boyd and Jocelyn Curteanu each proposed amendments to the bylaw.
Boyd suggested just correcting for the new CRA rules and CPI increases, which would initially bring councillors’ salaries up to $24,315.
Curteanu proposed increasing salaries by 2.5 per cent on top of that.
Councillor Samson Hartland agreed with them.
“On one hand you have to be able to attract the right…