While I can appreciate the merits of increasing the compensation for city councillors as Pat Lorje advocates, there are a few flaws in her argument.
She implies that because she works harder now as a councillor than she did as a member of the legislative assembly, she deserves increased compensation. However, compensation is designed primarily to create a demand for a particular position rather than about how hard a person works.
As there has never been an election which didn’t attract at least one candidate, there has never been a shortage for applicants to city council. Since supply of candidates outweighs the demand, there should not be any reasonable pressure to increase compensation for the successful candidates.
Furthermore, the current rate of compensation at $60,000 per year is more attractive to those living in the lower end of the economic spectrum. For example, it creates a disincentive for professionals earning above $100,000 annually to run for office.
This disincentive doesn’t exist with respect to lower wage workers. Young people, who generally earn less than older, more experienced workers, have more incentive to become involved at the council level. This is evidenced by the recent election which featured several young, relatively inexperienced candidates.
Therefore, increasing councillors’ salaries would cause a job gentrification at city council in that there would be an increased incentive for older, currently higher-paid residents to run for office.
If Pat Lorje wishes for a greater number of older, wealthier citizens to compete against younger, poorer or less experienced candidates, she could do no worse than to advocate for an increase in councillors’ salaries to a more “fair” wage.
My larger concern (and, I suspect, Pat’s main point) is the with the insistence that we need full-time councillors. Why? These people should be setting broad policies and clear direction for the administration, not micromanaging the affairs of the city and coming up with more and more schemes to spend our money. How many more meetings do they need to attend to do this?
These people aren’t smart enough to tell me how to live. Why would I want to give them more reason to try?