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No raise this year for Maple Ridge councillors

Maple Ridge council - (from left - clockwise) Mayor Ernie Daykin, Corisa Bell, Bob Masse, Cheryl Ashlie, Al Hogarth, Judy Dueck and Michael Morden. - The New/Files
Maple Ridge council - (from left - clockwise) Mayor Ernie Daykin, Corisa Bell, Bob Masse, Cheryl Ashlie, Al Hogarth, Judy Dueck and Michael Morden.
— image credit: The New/Files

Maple Ridge council won’t be getting a pay raise this year.

Councillors supported a resolution, which will be voted on next week, to keep their salaries the same for 2012 but remain conflicted about crafting a policy to determine what they should get paid.

However, they will write a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark suggesting that civic politicians salaries come under the purview of the municipal auditor general. Council will tackle the whole issue again, once the premier responds.

Coun. Judy Dueck kicked off the debate Monday by suggesting the whole debate be delayed for three years – until a new council is voted in.

“The discussion about the next council looking at remuneration ... we are at that point now,” said Dueck.

Maple Ridge’s current policy for setting council pay is to compare councillors’ pay in 10 Lower Mainland cities and pay at the 65 percentile mark of the salary level.

That means, Maple Ridge council salaries would be higher than 65 per cent of those 10 cities and lower than 35 per cent.

That policy had councillors due for a 13-per-cent hike over three years and the mayor getting a nine-per-cent hike over that time, in addition to annual cost-of-living increases. However, council in 2009, cancelled those cost-of -living increases.

The new council nixed those increases in December following a motion by the mayor and after rookie Coun.  Corisa Bell campaigned against them in the November election.

Maple Ridge councillors currently earn $37,300 and the mayor makes $92,300 yearly. Councillors salaries jumped 53 per cent following a review in 2008.

“There was a good reason for doing it prior to the election. But it became so political and put people in a position to comment on something they didn’t really know anything about,” said Dueck.

Dueck’s colleagues however want council to come up with a policy that will determine how their pay is set, rather than defer the decision.

“I do think we have to tackle this. I really want to take leadership on this,” said Coun. Cheryl Ashlie, who suggested council ask for the new municipal auditor to tackle the issue.

Coun. Bell would still prefer an unbiased third party decide the pay of Maple Ridge politicians.

“I don’t know anybody else who decides their own pay increase,” Bell said at Monday’s workshop.

“This did become a massive election issue … the feedback I had from the public around this concept was massive. I don’t want to close the discussion and leave it in the hands of the next council to deal with.”

Al Hogarth was the only councillor who supported a staff report last week that calls for cost-of-living increases each January, and resetting council’s base salary every three years, after the new council compares politicians’ pay in 10 Lower Mainland cities.

He wants the current council to draft a new policy, rather than leave the decision to the next council.

“I didn’t mention what I earned or didn’t earn (as a realtor) last week to get sympathy, it was merely stating a fact,” said Hogarth, who has faced criticism since he voiced his support for a pay raise.

“I do have a lot of concern and passion for the community. That seems to be the problems with politics, when you tell the truth … unfortunately you are chastised. I am a big boy. I’ve got some scars and I’m sure I’m going to get some more. If we stick with zero, I am fine with that.”

Coun. Mike Morden believed the district should not wait for the province.

“I think we need to simply tell others what we are doing and why we are doing it and ask them for input,” he said.

Coun. Bob Masse admitted the subject of remuneration was a difficult discussion for council but believes it isn’t something voters are concerned about.

“I don’t think it’s as hugely important for the public as it’s been made to be in the press,” Masse said.

“The letters [to the editor] were mean-spirited.”

 

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