Blue gets $127,000 severance

Economic development manager thought buyout was confidential but Maple Ridge Mayor posts total on Facebook page.

The cost to Maple Ridge taxpayers for severance of Sandy Blue, economic development manager, was $127,038.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read made the announcement last week in a Facebook post on the Maple Ridge Council Watch page, saying she posted the amount as example of the new council’s commitment to transparency.

“Further to council’s commitment to transparency, please know that the final severance amount paid to Sandy Blue in connection with her termination was $127,038.30,” she said.

Blue was let go Feb. 3 as manager of the four-person strategic economic initiatives department after council decided they wanted someone else.  She had served in the position since 2008.

“It was all about fit,” Read said previously.

“We need to deliver a strong economy in Maple Ridge going forward. We need to make some changes in order to do that.”

She added that people in last year’s citizens’ survey said they wanted more jobs and more shopping to come to Maple Ridge.

The city is now working on a change in economic development strategy and, therefore, wanted a new person to lead the four-person economic development department.

Read said that Blue has done a lot in the community and wished her the best.

The announcement of the severance came as a surprise to Blue, now a councillor with the City of Abbotsford.

She thought the terms of her departure from Maple Ridge were confidential.

“That was my understanding. From my perspective, it should be confidential.”

She didn’t think it was appropriate to comment on other terms of her departure.

“I’m looking forward. I tend to never look back and I always try to look for the positive, so that’s what I’m doing,” she said Friday.

Just before the November 2014 civic election, Coun. Corisa Bell wondered about Blue running for election in Abbotsford.

How could Blue have the time to sit on Abbotsford council while managing Maple Ridge’s economic development, Bell asked in September.

Blue, though, said then she didn’t see any conflict.

As Maple Ridge’s manager of strategic economic initiatives, Blue made $107,676 in 2013. As one of eight councillors in Abbotsford, she’ll make about $37,500 a year, ($5,000 less than Maple Ridge councillors make.)

Blue had said her work schedules didn’t conflict. Maple Ridge’s Monday morning council workshops, during which she sometimes gave presentations, start at 10 a.m., while Abbotsford committee meetings begin at 3 p.m.