Langley city council ponders salary increases

Langley City Council members were divided on the topic of salary increases for the mayor and staff.

Langley City Council members were divided on the topic of salary increases for the mayor and city staff.

At a council meeting Monday night, council members held a preliminary discussion on the 2022 budget, which included a projected 6.3% cost-of-living adjustment for city employees.

But for the mayor, a separate pay raise was discussed that would increase the annual salary from $55,000 to $80,000.

The budget also included wages for an administrative assistant, at $55,000, who would be responsible for working the front desk in city hall. The position is currently filled by two part-time employees who also have other roles at city hall.

Lastly, stipend increases for the council members were included in the budget. Each council member currently receives $50 per month, but it was suggested that that pay should be doubled for the new incoming council members in 2022. The remaining council members, Craig Cyr and Thomas Gill, would not qualify for the increase.

The city’s general fund, however, could not afford all the increases, said Langley Finance Director Monica Felici.

Councilmember Dominique Emerson opposed the increases. She did not think it would be possible to raise the pay for the mayor after taking into account the state of the city’s budget.

“The mayor ran with an understanding of our current level of salary,” she said. “I think his salary should go up at the same rate as other people’s salaries, the same kind of increase.”

She was also not in favor of increasing the stipend council members receive or adding an administrative assistant to the city’s payroll.

“It’s like taking blood out of a turnip,” she said.

Gill agreed with Emerson and suggested eliminating the increases in the mayor’s salary and the council’s stipends.

On the other hand, Cyr advocated for giving the mayor at least a $10,000 pay raise.

“Probably the mayor didn’t understand the level of work that it was going to take to clean up a number of things,” he said.

Councilmember Peter Morton asked for a study on staff pay. Felici said she had already factored in $10,000 for a wage study.

In lieu of pay increases and the addition of an administrative assistant, the council decided to focus on allocating funds towards two citizen-led commissions, the Dismantling Systemic Racism advisory group and the ad-hoc Climate Crisis Action Committee. Each commission would get $5,000 each.

To cut corners further, Gill proposed reallocating money meant for the wages of a fourth police officer, which Langley doesn’t currently have. The city has been in the process of searching for an additional officer but has not yet hired one.

“We’re not going to have 12 months of a fourth officer,” Gill said, adding that the city could take first-quarter wages for the officer and put the money towards something else. His back-of-the-envelope calculations showed that this would save the city $21,178.

Cyr praised Gill for the keen observation and agreed it was a sound idea.

Felici said she will be creating another budget proposal for the next council meeting on Nov. 1.

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