Terrace could see record-high annual tax increase
City taxpayers could expect a nearly 2.5 percent tax hike to fund nearly $370,000 in pay increases for City of Terrace executives and other non-union employees next year.
Just under $94,000 would cover a three percent pay increase for 2023, but $275,889 in recommended increases came from a pay review commissioned by the city council earlier this year.
The review, which compared salaries at nine other B.C. local governments, stems from fears the city is not competitive when it comes to retaining the managerial and non-union staff it now has or that it won’t be in the will be able to fill vacancies as they arise.
“Regionally, the public sector competes with industry over wages and other employee perks, such as flexible hours, working from home schemes, etc.,” city manager Kris Boland wrote in a memo to the city council, recommending that the city increase salaries as outlined in the review.
“The city is not alone in its challenges of attracting and retaining an engaged workforce; This is a challenge that is seen both regionally and nationally.”
Combined with other recommended 8.19 percent tax increases for city services and the replacement of outdated infrastructure, Terrace taxpayers could expect an overall increase of 11.41 percent in 2023, by far the highest annual increase on record.
The review compared 19 urban positions to equivalent local government positions near the Kitimat-Stikine Regional Unit, Kitimat and Prince Rupert and as far away as Dawson Creek and Summerland to establish minimum, average and maximum salary ranges.
Boland found that two of the 19 positions have higher salaries than the review at other locations, while the remaining salaries range from 82 percent to 99 percent of those at other locations.
But he warned the council that pay levels for those 19 councils are not within the eight pay levels the review recommends for managers and non-union workers.
These salary levels range from city manager to directors or department heads to jobs called professional support. City officials recommend rates set by the council at the maximum rate, as outlined in the review.
For Boland’s position, that maximum rate would total $189,000, more than the $162,600 he earned in 2021. His salary increased by 2 percent in 2022 and will independently increase again by 3 percent in 2023.
Department heads now make in the $125,000 range, and those salaries would rise to $142,000 based on review recommendations.
The review also recommended performance bonus packages, referred to as a five to 10 percent performance maximum, something Boland’s memo doesn’t fully recommend.
“Staff do not recommend budgeting for performance caps, but instead should be considered by the chief administrative officer and human resources manager in exceptional cases,” the memo reads.
While the 3 percent increase for 2023 and increases based on the January 1, 2023 salary review are recommended, the city council has yet to finalize the city’s 2023 budget and its 2023-2027 five-year fiscal plan.
As soon as the budget and the five-year plan are finalized and the council decides on the salary levels, they will apply retroactively to January 1, 2023.