Any time you get more clarity and transparency, it’s a good thing.
So Katherine Wagner of Maple Ridge Council Watch was happy to hear that Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin listened to her letter a few weeks ago, calling for better explanation of council salaries and expenses.
Wagner had asked for an explanation of council salaries and expenses.
She also wanted an explanation of how council sets its salaries, as well as past salaries and expenses paid.
The mayor heard her and put forth a proposal at Tuesday’s meeting. Daykin will ask council to approve the monthly posting of councillors’ expenses in the disbursement report and on its website. “I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Wagner said Friday.
“I just feel that, for me, it’s about transparency and accountability.”
Wagner said she wanted the information so she can form an opinion and that just because someone asks for information, doesn’t mean they’ll treat it negatively.
She wasn’t asking for expenses to be posted monthly, but says it’s “a great idea.”
Wagner found a few weeks ago that the page on the District of Maple Ridge’s website didn’t give up to date council salaries, and instead showed only figures from 2008. Shortly after the November 2011 election, council voted to freeze its salaries for three years.
That freeze has remained in place from 2010 to 2012, with the result that councillors each made just under $43,000 for each of those three years, while the mayor made just under $100,000 a year.
Councillors’ expenses for 2012, the first full year of the new council, ranged from a low of $1,019 for Coun. Judy Dueck to a high of $6,681 for Coun. Corisa Bell. Bell said she spends more because she attends conferences to improve her job as councillor, something she says others should do.
Mayor Daykin spent $6,838.
In her letter to mayor and council, Wagner said she clicked on the link for “council remuneration” and found the content “woefully inadequate.” Salaries from 2008 were listed. That’s since been updated to show 2012 salaries.
Wagner wants historical data to show the progression in council salaries.
“I just think people should be able to go to the website and full information without contacting staff.”
She added it’s not so much the amounts that councillors make or what they spend on expenses as it is important for the public to be able to access that information.