It may not be scientific, but a huge number of Victoria residents don’t want city councillors to get a substantial raise, according to a new survey.
The City of Victoria opened the survey to collect public feedback around the 2020 city budget, and found 86 per cent of those who responded disagreed with increasing council wages to $70,100 a year.
The city collected feedback through the online survey, written submissions (email), and a Budget Town Hall held in November.
The raise is supported by Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, and would see a more than 50 per cent increase in salary and benefits for councillors.
“I welcome receiving this feedback from the public,” Isitt said in a statement.
“Public opinion region-wide appears to support limiting Victoria city councillors to part-time remuneration and duties, based on the results of this unscientific questionnaire of self-selected residents from Victoria, Saanich, Langford and other communities.”
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More than 5,100 area residents and business owners responded to the survey. City staff noted in the survey report that is was a significant increase in responses compared to years past.
Isitt says maintaining the council wages as they are should also mean a change is the expectation the public has out of a councillor. One suggestion from the long-time city councillor is a shift to night time meetings similar to what has been done in Saanich.
“Public access to councillors could also be reviewed, shifting to a lower level of responsiveness to correspondence, meeting requests, telephone calls and media inquiries,” Isitt said.
“This would allow councillors to focus their part-time hours on core duties of attending formal council and committee meetings and reading staff reports to supervise municipal operations.”
Survey respondents also expressed some concern that the Victoria Police Department (VicPD) is being underfunded.
“Overall, survey respondents noted that spending in operating categories was ‘just right,’ with the exception of VicPD, where the majority of respondents (67 per cent) noted that spending was ‘too low,'” reads the survey report.
“Another exception was responses regarding the operating budget for Sustainable Planning and Community Development were fairly evenly split between ‘just right’ and ‘too high.'”