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MLA-elect could stay on Pitt council

Pitt Meadows Coun. Gwen O
Pitt Meadows Coun. Gwen O'Connell congratulates with Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters also at campaign headquarters.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The MLA-elect for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows won’t collect two taxpayer-funded salaries if he stays on as a councillor for the city.

Doug Bing hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll complete his third term as a member of Pitt Meadows council, but promised to forgo his salary – $24,780 in 2012 – if he does.

“I have a problem with people double-dipping, especially if people are working for the public,” said Bing, comparing his situation to a person who retires from a job, then gets hired as a consultant.

“To get two salaries doesn’t seem right.”

As MLA, Bing will make a base salary of  $101,859, which kicks in once he’s sworn in mid-June (retroactive to the date of election – May 14).

Bing ended the New Democratic Party’s eight-year hold on the riding by defeating Elizabeth Rosenau by 681 votes, according to preliminary results.

Although Bing previously said he would resign his council seat, he is now waiting to discuss the matter with his council colleagues to determine the best course of action.

On Wednesday, Bing and the new Liberal caucus gathered for an orientation, and he has a meeting scheduled with premier-elect Christy Clark on Monday.

The meeting with Clark is “like a job interview,” to help her figure out who to include her new cabinet.

Following those meetings, Bing will have a clearer idea of his role in Victoria.

“We have decided to wait until next week,” Bing said of the scheduled meeting with council.

Meanwhile, he’s already scouting locations for his constituency office and plans to locate it on the west side of the riding.

He’ll be reusing the furniture from outgoing NDP MLA Michael Sather’s office.

Bing isn’t the only MLA-elect faced with the prospect of juggling two jobs.

A total of four sitting mayors and eight municipal councillors were elected to the Liberal team, an outcome that could trigger by-elections across the province, from Dawson Creek to Surrey.

Some have already made up their minds. Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt plans to stay on as long as he can do both jobs to avoid a by-election, which could cost the city as much as $800,000.

Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender is giving up his seat, while Abbotsford Coun. Simon Gibson is doing the same, but waiting until January so he won’t trigger a by-election.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters would prefer to see Bing stay on to avoid a by-election that will cost the city around $15,000.

“We do have to find out what’s happening and make a decision when we know more,” said Walters.

If a by-election is held, Walters isn’t worried that she will lose a crucial vote on council.

“I’m happy to work with whoever gets elected, if we have a by-election. I’m not worried either way,” she added.

Other MLA-elects weighing the prospects of two jobs are councillors Scott Hamilton (Delta),  Greg Kyllo (Sicamous),  Linda Larson (Oliver), Linda Reimer (Coquitlam), Jackie Tegart (Ashcroft) and mayors Jordan Sturdy (Pemberton), Mike Bernier (Dawson Creek) and Dan Ashton (Penticton).

– with files from Black Press

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