Maple Ridge council salaries frozen since 2009
Maple Ridge councillors are doing their part to rein in spending of public tax dollars.
The yearly take-home pay for each of the six councillors has remained frozen, at just under $43,000, for five years, and is even a few hundred dollars lower than what they were making in 2009.
The present council decided to freeze its wages at the current salary after it was elected in November 2011.
It did so after the previous council in 2009 also rejected a 13-per-cent hike for councillors and a nine-per-cent raise for the mayor.
It may be time to look at the issue again after this November’s civic election, said Coun. Judy Dueck, who started the discussion three years ago.
“I think the new council should look at the policy as a whole. I don’t think it’s something this council should do.”
Previous policy was to compare councillors’ pay with other Metro Vancouver cities.
“All that does is keep the momentum going,” Dueck said.
But waiting too long to give politicians an increase could result in steep hikes to catch up. Instead, Dueck said maybe a committee with representation from members of the public can figure out a system.
She added that it’s never an easy thing for council to vote on a raise for itself and liked the past practice of the present council setting the wages for the incoming council.
And those running for office shouldn’t consider a position on council as a job, but rather as a way of serving the community.
“People shouldn’t run for office because they’re depending on the money.”
Because then you end up running because you need the income rather serving the community, she added.
Coun. Cheryl Ashlie, who’s not seeking re-election, says salaries for politicians and public sector staff have to be brought under control and favours some kind of external agency to set salaries.
Otherwise, each city compares its salaries to each other and costs keep rising, she said.
“I want a completely different system,” Ashlie added. “I don’t know how this sustainable. I just don’t.”
The freeze on politicians’ wages should extend to the next council as well, Ashlie said.
“I think we’re pretty well compensated. I think it’s fair.
“When everything is so tight … we just have to show cost containment. I think we just have to hold the line.”
In 2013, including expenses, councillors made between a low of $41,768 (Coun. Judy Dueck) and a high of $43,969 (Coun. Corisa Bell).
Mayor Ernie Daykin earned $99,435. Daykin is also paid as a director on the board for Metro Vancouver and in 2012, earned $23,732 in that position.
According to the statement of financial information released last week, Maple Ridge spent a million dollars more on salaries for those earning more than $75,000 yearly last year than the previous one.
In 2012, the District of Maple Ridge paid a total of $12.9 million for staff earning more than $75,000 a year.
In 2013, the district paid a total of $13.9 million for staff earning more than $75,000 a year.
The increase is result of employees, many of them firefighters, moving up through the pay grid as they gain seniority. Many employees are at the top of the grid with no increases scheduled.
Maple Ridge has, in recent years, moved to a mix of using full-time fighters along with paid on-call ones, meaning there’s a full-time fire department.
While more money went to the top earners, the district managed to pare down the wage bill for those earning less than $75,000.
That dropped to $17.8 million in 2013 compared to $18.5 million the year before.
Total wages paid to District of Maple Ridge employees in 2013 were up by $353,000 from the year before to a grand total of $31,791,843.
Top 10 wage earners for 2013 are:
• James Rule, chief administrative officer, $228,904;
• Peter Groodendorst, fire chief (retired), $202,517;
• Frank Quinn, general manager, public works, $196,503;
• Paul Gill, general manager, financial services, $193,665;
• Kelly Swift, general manager, parks and leisure, $169,294;
• Dane Spence, fire chief, $161,976;
• Dennis Teboekhorst, fire lieutenant, $143,888;
• Liz Holitzki, bylaws director, $142,955;
• Dave Pollock, engineer, $142,432;
• Kathy Lamont, personnel officer, $135,415.