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A call to freeze to Pitt council salaries

City of Pitt Meadows employee salaries rose 4.4 per cent last year. - News files
City of Pitt Meadows employee salaries rose 4.4 per cent last year.
— image credit: News files

A Pitt Meadows councillor is calling for a freeze in council salaries, which have increased 50 per cent since they were last reviewed six years ago.

According to financial statements released this week, the mayor earned $70,864 in 2013, compared to $47,160 in 2008.

The mayor also received a total stipend of $14,160 from Metro Vancouver for being a director.

When base salary and benefits are combined, councillors made $27,756 in 2013 compared to $17,544 in 2008.

“We’ve made it like a salary,” said Coun. Janis Elkerton, adding she see her role as a councillor as a public service.

Salary rates for council are adjusted each year according to a formula based on the median of the published salary of all Metro Vancouver mayors for the immediately preceding year.

The formula was put into place in 2008 following the recommendations of an independent committee of citizens, but was called flawed this year after council saw a seven per cent increase between 2012 and 2013.

Council attempted to deal with the bylaw this year, but was unable to reach a compromise.

Mayor Deb Walters and Couns. Tracy Miyashita and Gwen O’Connell want to establish another independent committee to investigate how to compensate elected officials.

Others on council wanted to scrap the bylaw and tack increases to inflation or the Consumer Price Index for Metro Vancouver for the preceding year.

If re-elected in November, Elkerton intends to call for a freeze in council salaries, following the lead of Maple Ridge council, which hasn’t seen a raise since 2009.

Coun. Bruce Bell supports a freeze and believes an independent committee would be a waste of citizens’ time.

“We need to find ways to cut back on spending,” said Bell. “Could we hold the salaries of council? I think we can. I think we are adequately paid for what we do.”

Mayor Walters also wants the issue of salaries addressed, but still wants it investigated by an independent committee.

“It’s important to go through the process again,” said Walters.

“I don’t know if a cost of living increase is too much, but we would find that out with a review,” she added.

“Personally, I didn’t think we deserved any increase this year. I think our wages are fair at this point in time, but you also have to keep up otherwise you fall behind, because that’s what happened before.”

Council isn’t the only group to see their salaries go up over the past year.

According to financial statements, city employees salaries rose to $4,498,578 in 2013, a 4.4 per cent increase from $4,307,915 in 2012.

When compared over a period of five years, it’s a 20-per-cent increase in wages.

Staff earning more than $75,000 stayed steady in 2013, with 21 staff in the category compared to 22 in 2012 .

In 2012, the city’s chief administrator officer made $195,134, more than federal Canadian ministerial chiefs of staff, whose salaries top out at $178,800.

City spending and salaries still pale in comparison to other Metro Vancouver municipalities. Vancouver’s city manager earns more than $320,000 annually.

“This should send a chill down a taxpayer’s spine,” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “These are costs that never get rolled back and continue to increase. It’s hard to argue that you are getting any more service for that money.”

Bateman believes councils can control labour costs and points to Penticton, which negotiated down starting wages, as well as Prince George, which signed a four-year contract with its union earlier this year that includes a net zero increase for the first two years.

“There are solutions, but you just need a council that has the gumption to put them into place,” he said.

Pitt Meadows signed an agreement with its CUPE workers on March 4. It expires on March 31, 2016 and has annual increases of 1.25 per cent,1.75 per cent, 1.75 per cent and two per cent.

 

Council expenses

The mayor earned a base salary of $67,002 and $3,863 in benefits last year, while councillors earned a base salary of $25,126, plus $2,639 in benefits:

• Mayor Deb Walters - $5,541;

• Coun. Janis Elkerton- $ 2,693;

• Coun. Tracy Miyashita - $1,989;

• Coun. Dave Murray - $292;

• Couns. Bruce Bell and Gwen O’Connell did not claim any expenses.

 

Top 10 Pitt earners in 2013:

• Kim Grout, deputy CAO, director of operations – $149,481 and $8,589 in expenses (2.7 per cent increase over 2012);

• Don Jolley, fire chief – $121,469 and $4,338 in expenses (2.5 per cent increase);

• Lorna Jones, director of human resources and communications –$108,410 and $732 in expenses (2.5 per cent decrease);

• Rob Chatton, assistant fire chief –$103,245 (0.5 per cent increase);

• Brad Perrie, assistant fire chief – $103,245 and $2,435 in expenses (0.7 per cent increase);

• Randy Evans, operations superintendent - $103,246 and $9,863 in expenses (1.1 per cent increase);

• Dave Philp, business analyst – $103,245 and $1,854 in expenses (7.3 per cent increase);

• Cheryl Harding, manager of financial services – $102,476 and $2,842 in expenses (six per cent increase);

• Kate Zanon, director of corporate and business services – $100,462 and $3,419 in expenses (15.6 per cent increase);

• Dana Parr, planner – $87,446 and $1,156 in expenses;

• Kelly Kenney, manager of legislative services - $84,063 and $4,368 in expenses;

• Ike De Boer, engineering services coordinator – $77,074;

• Scott Kyle, fire safety technician – $76,190;

• Mike Larsson, fire safety technician – $76,190;

• Martin Brown, network specialist - $73,909;

• Dave Bruce, building inspector – $73,909;

• Chantal Gemperle, building inspector – $73,909;

• Bob Williams, utilities foreman – $69,847;

• Murray Doull, public works foreman - $68,610;

• Linda Kelly, deputy clerk – $76,163.

Pitt Meadows - 2013 Statement of Financial Information by Monisha Caroline Martins

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