Metro Vancouver board members voted in favour of giving themselves in a retroactive pension of up to $11,000, despite some councillors questioning the move ahead of the fall elections.
In Friday’s meeting, the board agreed to a retirement allowance of 10.2 per cent of earnings, which is about $1,100, for all members who choose to leave or are not re-elected, going back to 2007.
The vote was not recorded.
We have politicians granting themselves pension increases with the simple raising of their hands
The pension comes in on the heels of a change to federal taxes which would see some of the pay that local officials receive be taxed as income.
The board has voted themselves a raise to mitigate that impact, costing Metro Vancouver $131,333 in 2019.
Coquitlam Coun. Brent Asmundson questioned the wisdom of the move, given the fact that municipal voters go to the polls on Oct. 20.
“With the number of people that are leaving, I don’t think it’ll be well received by the public that we have so many people who are longtime members getting a retroactive pension on their way out the door,” Asmundson said.
Burnaby Coun. Colleen Jordan said she was concerned about the fast turnover of board members leading to too many pensions.
Metro Vancouver board members are appointed from the city councils of member cities. They receive a per-meeting stipend for the part-time position of $387 for meeting up to four hours and $775 for meetings over four hours. That’s on top of their compensation for sitting on their respective city councils.
“We have people on this board who sit for one year because their councils only appoint them for one year,” said Jordan. “Do we really think they need a 10 per cent ‘leaving allowance’ on top of their meeting stipend?”
Jordan pointed to other jurisdictions that have a four-year minimum before someone was eligible for a pension.
Board vice-chair and Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie supported the allowance: “I don’t think it’s a stretch for us to also recognize the long service – and perhaps short service – that each of us provide to this organization.”
Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Vancouver have all implemented some sort of leaving allowance.
A finance committee report found that a retroactive period back to 2007 at the formula proposed would be valued at approximately $498,000 in retirement earnings.