A four-per-cent increase in salaries over the span of a year for city employees has one Pitt Meadows resident fuming as he battles politicians to keep spending in check.
According to financial statements released this week, employee salaries rose to $4,307,915 in 2012, a 4.7 per cent increase from $4,112,357 in 2011.
When compared over two years, it’s a 10-per-cent increase in wages.
The city also saw more staff earning more than $75,000, climbing to 22 in 2012 from 15 in 2011.
When Tom Murray looks at the financial statements, he takes a deep breath and shakes his head.
“It’s ridiculous,” says Murray, who spearheaded a petition last year calling for the city to reign in spending with a zero tax increase.
Although Murray collected more than 1,300 signatures, his petition was not successful.
The former school board trustee remains undefeated and plans to restart his petition this summer, calling for no tax increase in 2015 – an election year.
“Every time they get a chance for a raise, they grab,” says Murray, a senior who lives on a fixed income.
“They have to bring spending in line. It’s just going nuts.”
Murray echoes the criticisms of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which believes civic spending is out of control across the country.
Pitt Meadows chief administrative officer made $195,134 in 2012, more than the chief of staff for the White House, whose salary topped out at $172,200 last year.
For Murray, the comparison is clear evidence that civic salaries and spending need to be capped.
“All we wanted to do last year was see what no tax increase looked like, and the city refused,” said Murray.
“People, especially seniors, are still concerned.”
While Pitt Meadows has its critics, city spending and salaries still pale in comparison to other Metro Vancouver municipalities. Vancouver’s city manager earns more than $320,000 annually.
Pitt Meadows’ mayor believes the salaries are justified.
“Another thing people don’t realize is that we are a small operation,” said Deb Walters, noting many city staff do multiple jobs.
For example, the city’s director of operations is also responsible for development services and also sits as deputy CAO.
The city’s director of legislative services also heads the economic development corporation.
“I think we get extremely good value for our dollar,” Walters added.
“Is it high compared to the private sector, possibly it is.”
Pitt Meadows also managed to whittle down two-thirds of its $16 million debt in 2012 with the sale of city-owned land.
Walters believes the call for no tax increase is not realistic and not sustainable.
“At the end of the day, especially the people who sign the petition, what would you give up,” asked Walters, adding most don’t want to give up any city services and many “want a pool.”
Top earners at City of Pitt Meadows:
The top earners for Pitt Meadows council in 2012:
• Mayor Deb Walters – $66,082, $5,804 in expenses;
• all councillors earned a salary of $25,882.
• Coun. Janis Elkerton – $3,706;
• Coun. David Murray – $2,942;
• Coun. Tracy Miyashita – $2,567;
• Coun. Doug Bing – $1,984;
• Coun. Bruce Bell – $95;
• Coun. Gwen O’Connell – $45.
Top city staff earners for 2012:
• Jake Rudolph, chief administrative officer – $195,134 in salary and $10,924 in expenses (2.4 per cent increase over 2011);
• Kim Grout, deputy CAO, director of operations – $145,539 and $9,454 in expenses (10 per cent increase);
• Dean Rear, director of finance – $126,007 and $4,744 in expenses (2.2 per cent increase);
• Don Jolley, fire chief – $120,094 and $2,139 in expenses (2.5 per cent increase);
• Lorna Jones, director of human resources and communications – $111,247 (7.5 per cent increase);
• Rob Chatton, assistant fire chief – $102,702 (7.2 per cent increase);
• Brad Perrie, assistant fire chief – $102,461 and $1,056 in expenses (0.4 per cent increase);
• Randy Evans, operations superintendent – $102,078 (2.5 per cent increase);
• Cheryl Harding, manager of financial services – $96,618 and $3,223 in expenses;
• Dave Philp, business analyst – $96,215 and $3,501 in expenses;
• Mike Larsson, fire safety technician – $88,872;
• Dana Parr, planner – $88,426 and $1,258 in expenses;
• Scott Kyle, fire safety technician – $88,081 and $1,598 in expenses;
• Kate Zanon, director of corporate and business services – $86,886 and $5,830 in expenses;
• Bob Williams, utilities foreman – $86,577 (five per cent increase);
• Martin Brown, network specialist – $81,767 and $4,252 in expenses (nine per cent increase);
• Murray Doull – $81,686 (7.5 per cent increase).
• Ike De Boer, engineering services coordinator – $77,07 (0.3 per cent increase);
• Linda Kelly, deputy clerk – $76,163;
• Chantal Gemperle, building inspector – $75,167;
• Dave Bruce, building inspector – $73,909 and $1,048 in expenses.