Directors of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) adopted a new remuneration bylaw to change their pay structure at the Oct. 14 board meeting.
At the recommendation of staff, the bylaw gets rid of the per-meeting pay structure and instead adjusts to a flat-fee-based structure. Keeping track of who attended which meetings, and which meetings triggered a pay increase by running overtime, “takes a tremendous amount of time” for the administrative team to tally, chief administrative officer Dean McKinley told Coast Reporter ahead of the meeting.
In the Oct. 14 agenda package, the proposed remuneration schedule listed annual stipends as $33,363 for electoral area directors, $23,354 for municipal directors and the chair supplement, $3,003 for the vice-chair supplement and $1,600 for alternate directors. Pay for attending meetings will only be available for alternate directors at $255 per day. The supplement for acting in the capacity of board chair per day is listed as $89.82 for electoral area directors and municipal directors, and $78.27 for the vice-chair supplement. Only electoral area directors and municipal directors will be eligible for conference stipends, at $158.54 per day attended. These rates encompass compensation for all mandatory activities for each role, the agenda states.
The total estimated remuneration for the five electoral area directors, four municipal directors, board chair, vice chair and nine alternate directors would be $300,988, according to the staff report provided in the agenda package for a May 27 meeting of the corporate and administrative services committee. The total cost of SCRD director compensation in 2019 was listed as $298,515, according to a January 2021 SCRD agenda.
The bylaw also updates the daily per diem rates for directors when travelling from 21-year-old rates that were based on the year 2000. Language around constituency allowance has also been updated to reflect current technology, such as Zoom, McKinley said.
“Remuneration levels that are left static in the face of changing circumstances, including shifts in the cost-of-living, risk becoming barriers to participation for individuals who may wish to serve their community,” the staff report to the board states in the Sept. 29 agenda. “In these cases, diversity in the membership of local governing bodies may be difficult to achieve.”
Additional changes to the bylaw include a new provision that if a director is absent for three consecutive board meetings, without leave of the board, the SCRD will suspend payment of that director’s annual stipend until the director resumes attendance. An alternate director who attends part of a meeting their director was previously at, will be compensated for the whole meeting.
For conferences, alternate directors will no longer be eligible to have their expenses reimbursed for their attendance. Reimbursement of expenses is also limited to one external conference and workshop per year for directors, in addition to UBCM and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities. Directors will need to request permission from the board to attend more.
The recommendations from the Directors’ Remuneration Task Force were adopted by the board earlier in the year.
Unlike previous remuneration reviews, this review was conducted before the final year of a board’s term and will go into effect for the voting board. Usually, the outcome of a remuneration review would apply for the incoming board. If adopted, the new bylaw would become effective as of Oct. 31, 2021.
Only Sechelt director Alton Toth was opposed to adopting the bylaw at the Oct. 14 meeting.
“I don’t think we should be voting to do any of our own remuneration stuff,” Toth said,
Elphinstone director Donna McMahon, who voted in favour, said, “I just want to point out that this is going to save a bunch of administrative time that can be best spent somewhere else.”
“The consideration for adopting the changes now is actually purely ease of administration,” McKinely told Coast Reporter on Oct. 12. “The amount of work that would go into processing all of this stuff would be reduced significantly,” McKinley said.
Beginning in 2025, director remuneration reviews will be conducted once every four years.