Civic politicians bolster pay with Metro committee work

We have previously posted details of salary and expenses for 2014: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/are-they-worth-it-council-pay-and-expenses/.   Final Council expenses for the 4th quarter of 2015 are not yet posted by the CNV.

 

From the Vancouver Sun Apr 21:

Source: Civic politicians bolster pay with Metro committee work

West Vancouver’s mayor is calling for a review of the annual stipends paid to the mayors and councillors who sit on Metro Vancouver’s board of directors, after a total of $840,019 in compensation was doled out in 2015.

Mayor Mike Smith, who earned an extra $11,129 and $130 in expenses as a Metro director last year, said he was astounded at some of the large sums collected by other mayors and councillors, who are paid for heading various committees such as garbage, parks and utilities, as well as for attending meetings and conferences, some of them overseas.

Besides the $840,019 paid out in base salaries, which amounts to a slight increase of 1.3 per cent over 2014, directors received a total of $87,740 in expenses for the year, according to a remuneration report from Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver chairman Greg Moore, for instance, who is also mayor of Port Coquitlam, collected an extra $71,858, and $13,497 in expenses, as Metro chairman, in addition to the $88,024 he earned as mayor.

“We need to look at this whole idea of directors fees and travel expenses and whether we should let directors lead the charge in being cost effective,” Smith said during a Metro committee meeting Wednesday. 

Smith also questioned why the region was paying councillors — who are not officially appointed by their city councils to be directors on the board — a stipend to attend the two-hour council-of-council meetings, which are held three times a year and include a full breakfast.

Metro directors are paid $359 for every board and committee meeting they attend, or double that if it’s over four hours. The money paid out by Metro is in addition to the salaries the directors receive from their individual councils.

“It’s unnecessary,” Smith said of the council-of-council meetings. Do we need this council of councils? Is that a boondoggle?”

But Moore says the council-of-councils meetings are a valuable way to keep all councillors informed of the region’s business. He noted Metro had previously reduced a number of committees to become more efficient, and the council-of-council meetings are only held three times a year. 

“We find them really valuable to ensure all members of councils are engaged and understand what we’re doing,” he said. 

Moore also defended the increase in Metro remuneration, saying it had only risen slightly and was based on changes in politicians’ salaries around the region. His stipend as chairman, for instance, is based on as the median salary of all Metro mayors.

“We don’t put up our hands (to vote) on the increase,” Moore said. “It’s based on what the mayors are earning.”

Chances are Metro directors will see another raise this year as several city councils — including Vancouver’s — give themselves a raise.

Vancouver city council recently approved a 12.6-per-cent increase for councillors, while Mayor Gregor Robertson will receive a 1.9-per-cent boost from an additional supplement, bringing his base salary to $161,308. New Westminster is considering a 3.2-per-cent raise for Mayor Jonathan Cote, which would boost his pay to $102,017, and an 8.9-per-cent increase for councillors. 

Moore noted directors in charge of contentious committees, such as garbage and water, likely earned more in 2015 because of additional work or conferences dealing with issues such as the now-rejected trash incinerator and the summer drought. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, for instance, chair of the waste committee, earned an extra $32,310 from Metro Vancouver and $8,774 in expenses, while North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto earned $29,079 and $4,424 in expenses, both on top of their mayor’s pay.

“I think mine was higher because of the all the water stuff,” Mussatto said. 

By comparison, Robertson, who sits on the TransLink board but doesn’t chair any Metro committees, took home only $4,667 as a Metro director, while Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner collected $5,025 and $55 in expenses on top of her regular duties as mayor. Nine directors earned more than $20,000 in salaries.

 

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