Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Richter Report - February 13, 2006

Council Pay Increase Discussions Going Public!

Good News! Council will discuss its intended pay raises next week in public rather than as planned for this week’s in-camera (private closed door) session. Thank goodness for Blogs!

I am very pleased to be able to report back to you that Council has now decided to discuss its proposed pay increase (less than 2 months after the last pay increase) at next week’s public meeting. I hope that next week’s public discussion about Council pay raises will occur during next week’s evening televised Regular meeting rather than at the non-televised afternoon Special meeting.

For the record, I will not be supporting the proposed combined 20+% increase in Councillor’s salaries (13.8% as of Dec 1, 2005 plus 9.0 % as of February 13, 2006). Given that property taxes are anticipated to increase by 20.35% and the Township’s current debt is anticipated to increase by $35.6 Million, I do not think that it is appropriate for Council to reward itself with a pay raise. The private sector does not reward increased spending and debt with increased salaries, nor should the “Corporation” of the Township of Langley.

My thanks to all the Councillors who moved that we take this item off today’s in-camera agenda! (Although I have to admit the heat was not appreciated which raises another question: Should attempted discipline of Councillors occur in-camera or is this too stretching the definition of “Personnel”?). Trust and Confidence are built on a foundation of good judgment in an honest spirit of openness and transparency. Trust and Confidence are not built on behind-the-scenes discussions or maneuvers complete with legal counsel.

In-camera items should be clearly and narrowly defined. In-camera should not be used to excuse Council from discussing “uncomfortable” topics. Legal, Personnel and Property items are the only valid in-camera discussion topics. I think using the label “Personnel” to cover an in-camera discussion of Council pay raises was a stretch and an abuse of in-camera.

I will remain vigilant about the future use and possible abuse of these in-camera labels.

Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.

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