Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Recovery from COVID-19 will determine if Abbotsford council gets a pay cut

Next significant wage adjustment won’t come until after 2021 census figures released

Despite a policy linking council pay to their residents pay, the impact of the COVID-19 recession on the pay of Abbotsford’s municipal politicians won’t be seen for at least a couple years.

Four years ago, council adopted a policy tying the wages of politicians to those of residents. A councillor will make 75 per cent of an average full-time worker’s wages; the mayor will make 2.5 times the pay of a councillor.

Douglas Macadams, the local lawyer who led the citizen’s committee that came up with the group, told council at the time that they should prosper if their voters prosper, and take a financial hit if their constituents are struggling.

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But because the policy that was adopted uses income figures gleaned from the census, the pay of Abbotsford’s politicians will only be revised to reflect their constituents’ income every five years. And with 2021 the next census year, income figures won’t be known until 2022 at the earliest. Income numbers from the 2016 census weren’t released until the following September. That suggests council’s pay might not be adjusted to reflect their citizens’ income until 2023.

Once an adjustment is made, however, it will set a baseline for years to come. Between census years,council’s pay will be adjusted according to the rate of inflation. If inflation is negative, the pay remains the same.

That means that the scale and degree of the economic recovery (or lack-thereof) between now and next year’s census will have a substantial effect on council’s pay for years to come. If the economy booms (or sags) post-census, council’s pay won’t change accordingly for several years.

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