Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows trustees vote for pay raise

Cost-of-living increase equal to a dollar a day

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows trustees vote for pay raise

Outgoing school trustees voted Wednesday to give the incoming board a two per cent raise.

The cost-of-living increase, an extra dollar a day for each trustee, won’t take effect until after municipal elections on Nov. 19.

While the move keeps with the past practice of previous boards, some trustees felt that given current budget constraints, no raise should have been given at all.

“I think we need to lead by example because funding is so tight in these times,” said trustee Susan Carr, who put forward a motion to freeze trustee salaries for the next three years.

“If you are in this position for the money, you are in the wrong job. You are here for the kids and you are here for public education.”

Carr’s motion failed by a vote of 4-3, with trustees Kathie Ward and Mike Huber supporting the salary freeze.

Huber, who is not seeking re-election, said he was fundamentally against voting for any raise as he believes politicians should not have the right to write their own pay cheques, and instead suggested the provincial government determine trustee pay.

“We should challenge the ministry to help us,” he said.

However, board chair Ken Clarkson said such a move would only further erode the autonomy of local school boards.

“Trustees have already given up too much power [to the province],” he said “It’s a local decision, so it should remain a local decision.”

Trustee Dave Rempel said it wasn’t realistic to expect the government to step in, and that by deciding salaries prior to the municipal election, trustees can be held accountable by the public.

Trustee Stepan Vdovine, also not seeking re-election, said he supported the cost-of-living increase as a matter of principle, as he believes pay freezes, such as the province’s net-zero mandate for public sector workers, effectively constitutes a pay cut when inflation is considered.

“I take that position when it comes to our employee groups, to our teachers, to CUPE,” he said. “There should be, at the very least, an adjustment for cost of living for all employees of the district.”

Given the local school district spends close to $500,000 per day, the amount of money involved will have little if any budget implications, Vdovine added.

Trustees were given four options to vote on by a committee formed to review trustee pay, but rejected recommendations that would have increased the current annual trustee stipend of $18,207 by as much as $3,643.

The total cost of living increase for all trustees will cost the district an additional $2,500 next year.