Members of Town council did the right thing recently by not voting to approve extended health and dental benefits for the next group of municipal councillors. They probably wouldn’t have heard the end of it otherwise.
It would have cost the Town more than $8,000 a year. At a time when municipalities are constantly facing budget restraints, putting added pressure on taxpayers by giving medical benefits to elected officials is not morally right. And it likely won’t help anyone’s bid for re-election.
Being a Town councillor in Oliver is a part-time job that pays approximately $14,000 to 15,000 per year. The mayor makes more than $26,000 a year before expenses. We believe the mayor and council are fairly compensated for their work, which they do for the good of Oliver, not for the money. To add medical and dental benefits to their remuneration, paid for by the taxpayer, is too much. And like water councillor Rick Machial said, it would give the impression that running for council is money-driven, not something you do from the heart.
If councillors want extended medical and dental coverage, they should pay for it themselves, which some do. On the other side of the coin, Osoyoos town council previously approved an extended health and dental plan for councillors. So did Penticton city council . . . three months after being elected. (Councillors pay 50 per cent and the city pays 50 per cent.) This caused quite a backlash from taxpayers, and rightfully so.
At a regular meeting of Oliver council, it didn’t even get to a vote because no nobody brought forth a motion. It died a quick death. However, council did approve a stipend ($110 per month) for councillors acting as mayor. While some people may still balk at this, we think it’s fair compensation considering the extra duties one must perform as acting mayor.
There are countless people who don’t have adequate health and dental coverage, which is considered a luxury for many. Some people don’t even have a family doctor. So providing these benefits to council members is not a decision to make lightly.
Lyonel Doherty, editor