British Columbia

Revelstoke councillor resigns over mayor and council pay increases

Revelstoke Coun. Steven Cross has abruptly resigned at a special council meeting after council voted down his motion to forgo pay increases and instead divert the money into paving and infrastructure projects.

Salaries rising to $15-25K from $10K for councillors; to $75K from $30K for mayor

Revelstoke councillors and mayor debate a motion on Tuesday to forgo pay increases for their positions. (City of Revelstoke)

Revelstoke, B.C., Coun. Steven Cross abruptly resigned on Tuesday after mayor and council rejected his motion to forgo pay increases for themselves and divert the money into paving and infrastructure projects.

Council previously approved raising salaries over three years to $25,000 from $15,000 for councillors and to $75,000 from $30,000 for Mayor Gary Sulz.

"Approving these large raises without any third-party research, vetting, or reporting as to need, norms and recommendations is a choice to forgo transparency and to erode public trust in how we work and make decisions," Cross read from a written statement while announcing his resignation.

Pay increases have been a contentious issue for Revelstoke city council in recent months. 

'We need to pay appropriately'

The idea was introduced last year by Coun. Cody Younker, who argued Revelstoke's salary structure for mayor and councillors was not in line with other similarly sized municipalities.

"If we expect our mayor to work full-time, and you ... want the mayor to be at all these meetings and chairing meetings with ministers, we need to pay appropriately," he said last November.

Council voted in favour of his motion to increase salaries.

However, Cross argued for the need of a third-party review of remuneration ahead of any pay increases, and Coun. Mike Brooks-Hill introduced motions to defer the raises and to reduce the salary increases.  

Those motions were struck down.

Revelstoke Coun. Steven Cross argued the need for a third-party review of remuneration ahead of any pay increases for mayor and council. (Steven Cross/Facebook)

On Tuesday, Coun. Cross again pressed for a third-party review and Sulz argued it was unnecessary.

"I firmly believe that going to a third party is not the way to do it," Sulz said. "We have the ability to look at this in a constructive way. We've done that." 

'Ethical dilemma'

After council rejected his motion, Cross said he could not work with colleagues "who chose self-interest over the mission we were all elected to serve."

He announced his resignation effective as of Feb. 7.

In an interview with CBC News, Cross said he lost a lot of sleep ahead of his decision to resign from council.

"For me it was really an ethical dilemma," he said.

"We all got elected knowing what we were getting into, and if we felt there should be change it should have been done effective with the next council. That's the only way you can maintain the public trust that you are not lining your own pockets."

Sulz said he was disappointed and a little surprised Cross resigned over the issue.

"A man has to make a decision based on how he feels," he said.

Sulz stands by council's decision, saying a third-party review would have cost Revelstoke around $30,000.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

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