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Kelowna councillor opts out of 35% wage increase

A Kelowna city councillor has announced he is opting out of the controversial wage increase that was voted in earlier this spring.

During the May 13 meeting, councillor Ron Cannan said he would be “leading by example” and opting out of the proposed 35% increase that city councillors will receive.

The comment was made while city council discussed what to do with a nearly $11 million surplus.

Councillors were given the option of opting out, which was announced during a meeting in April.

Cannan proposed a stabilization fund, pointing to a 10% tax increase built into the financial plan over the next two years.

“What I’m proposing, I’d like to see some of that money put into the stabilization fund,” he said.

“So our tax increases are lower for the next couple of years, closer to the cost of living. Once again, it's trying to find that balance. It's a challenge and I think for many people in the community it's been a tough time for them with high inflation and interest rates.”

<who> Photo Credit: Screenshot

Cannan pointed out that the city has maintained healthy reserves and they should look at using some of the existing reserves and use that to invest into projects identified in the surplus report presented by staff.

He said it would be a good idea to look at sending some of that money back in the pockets of “overtaxed” citizens.

Staff said they were always looking at ways to keep tax increase low, however, the city had experienced inflation increase higher than the tax rate increases since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Cannan said he has sent an email to the city clerk and city manager indicating he will not be taking the wage increase.

“We had a 4.19% increase already this year and I think, as I said before, the new salary should come in with the new council,” Cannan said.

Cannan was against the wage increase from the get-go and was the one to put forward a motion to have a revote after several councillor indicated they were not aware what item they were voting on.

That motion failed, however.

Council agreed to phase in the pay increase; half now and the other half at the beginning of 2025.

That will see the mayor’s pay bumped from $126,497.29 to $135,848 now and up to $145,200 in January 2025

For councillors, their wage would increase from $42,991.14 to $50,535 immediately and up to $58,080 by next year.

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