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Maple Ridge council pay could be frozen for three years

Maple Ridge council was to vote Tuesday to freeze its pay for three years at 2011 levels.

If council agreed to that at its regular meeting, the issue of deciding what to pay Maple Ridge politicians would be off the agenda until a new council is at the table in 2014.

“We need to get on with the business of what we’re getting on with,” Mayor Ernie Daykin said Tuesday.

“Personally, it’s not that I need the money or want the money. Let’s get on with the job. It’s becoming distracting.”

Council was to vote that evening on a resolution, calling for pay “for the 2011-2014 term remain as that paid in 2011.”

That means council won’t get annual cost-of-living increases, either.

Council rejected a staff recommendation in March for a cost-of-living increase and resetting politicians pay every three years after a report comparing pay in 10 other Lower Mainland cities.

The report said council should increase its salary every January, based on the Metro Vancouver consumer price index, and that pay be reviewed every three years at the start of a new council, by comparing those salaries to other Lower Mainland cities and whether the wages reflect the time required to do the job. If necessary, a new base salary would be set at that time.

Maple Ridge’s current system for calculating politicians’ pay is to take an average of cost-of-living increases given to Canadian Union of Public Employees, consumer price increase and fire department increases to determine annual cost-of-living increases.

Council pay is also compared every three years with 10 other Lower Mainland cities and set at the 65 percentile, which means pay will be higher than 65 per cent of those paid in the other cities.

Following a review, council salaries jumped 53 per cent to $36,249 in 2008, while the mayor got an increase of 28 per cent to $89,744.

Councillors then got a cost-of-living increase in January 2011, and last summer approved a 13-per-cent hike over three years for councillors and a nine-per-cent hike for the mayor over the same period.

But council also called for a review of the salary-setting system at that time.

The topic then became an issue in the November election, with the new council nixing those increases in December.

Maple Ridge councillors currently earn $37,300, while the mayor makes $92,300.

During recent discussions, however, councillors had wanted to find a new way to set pay.

Tuesday’s resolution could conclude discussion for a while, unless council gets a response from Premier Christy Clark to its letter, asking that the new municipal auditor general review municipal salaries.

Daykin said most people undervalue what somebody else does.

“It’s such a subjective thing.”

Based on the support previously shown, the resolution was likely to pass.

“It’s common sense, period, when you look at what were getting and what everybody is really being asked to do in their own lives, as far as being just to accept zeros and want less with less,” said Coun. Cheryl Ashlie.

“It’s what we’re all having to look at no matter what level you’re at or what profession you’re in. We need to pull in our belts right now.”

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