the value of me

If you worked for someone else but had to choose your own pay rate, and no matter what you picked, a large number of shareholders would be indignant, how would you determine fair value for your work?

Some say that it’s none of my concern because I knew what the rate was when I offered to do the job. But what happens now that I’ve spent 4 years in the job and cannot deny or rationalize away the fact that the expectations are different than I thought it was, and now different than it was, when I started?

Some say that any pay change should take effect for the next council. Funny, no one seemed to mind when council made immediate cuts to its allowable expenses. Because serving as a councillor is a public service and paying taxes is not voluntary, it is assumed that, even if the councillor comes to realize the position is undervalued, out of compassion for the taxpayer, a councillor should be willing to make sacrifice for the remainder of the term. But how much sacrifice is reasonable?

Some say that someone else should choose the number. Previous councils had a committee of citizens determine the rate. Those committees looked to other cities to determine a market rate for a councillor. They looked for what they felt was a reasonable increase in the context of other cities. But there is no competition between cities to attract councillors, so if there is no market, how can there be a market rate? And looking only to determine a fair increase assumes that the rate is already generally appropriate. So how is the rate itself fairly determined?

The political reality is that there is no right time for an elected person to review their own pay. In our intuitive sense of fairness, no one should be choosing their own rate of pay – it is an obvious conflict of interest, fraught with opportunity for abuse – especially when the person paying has no choice but to pay whatever rate is chosen – that taking someone’s money for a self-interested purpose without their explicit blessing is akin to stealing.

So what is fair?

Though entirely uncomfortable with the process that got council to a decision last night – it certainly wasn’t an altruistic, idealist decision – but I do feel it is the right one.

The new rate would be measured against the average wage earning income for a White Rock citizen. The variable is the amount of time councillors spend on the job.

I believe this is fair because I would then be paid based on the community I serve. I was elected to represent the interests of the community, I think the fairest way to value that role is to reflect the community I’m representing.

I also believe that the manner in which the rate is calculated should acknowledge the time required to do the job.

While I agreed in the last remuneration review that the rate should be set for after the next election so that incoming councillors can infer that citizens have given them permission to serve in this role at the prescribed rate, I now believe that debating pay rates for councillors during an election would only serve to distract from more important issues and creates opportunity for political opportunism that does not consider with sober thought the value of the time and effort required to fulfill the role.

I admit, it is very difficult for me to turn away from that principle. It seems like I am having to choose between competing principles. And in that case, I am choosing based on how I believe those principles would relate to practice – based on my experience of what would really happen as opposed to what should happen in theory.

I think, when it’s thoroughly thought out, it’s fair to base council’s remuneration on the citizens we serve factored by time spent fulfilling those duties, and that the change be implemented to reflect the work I’m doing now.

3 Responses to “the value of me”

  1. Cliff Says:

    Visit Cliff

    OINK! OINK!!

  2. Chatsworth Says:

    Visit Chatsworth

    Interesting question. How does one determine the market value of a job that nobody would be willing pay anything for voluntary?

    You’ve devised a marvelously expedient wage calculation however, particularly in light of how -entirely incidentally of course- unusually wealthy White Rock is.

  3. Jamie MacDonald Says:

    Visit Jamie MacDonald

    Less said on this topic the better. It’s voted on and passed so move on.

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