Pitt council freezes pay

Pitt Meadows council wages up 50 per cent since 2008.

Pitt Meadows council - Mayor Deb Walters; Janis Elkerton;Bruce Bell; Tracy Miyashita and Gwen O'Connnell.

Pitt Meadows council - Mayor Deb Walters; Janis Elkerton;Bruce Bell; Tracy Miyashita and Gwen O'Connnell.

Pitt Meadows council squashed an increase to individual salaries Tuesday, freezing what members earn at 2013 levels.

Coun. Janis Elkerton introduced three motions at the meeting after she learned council was set to receive another hike in wages next week.

“That is not acceptable,” Elkerton told her colleagues.

Council remuneration has risen 50 per cent since it was last reviewed in 2008.

According to financial statements released by the city, the mayor earned $70,864 in 2013, compared to $47,160 in 2008. The mayor also received a total stipend of $14,160 from Metro Vancouver for being a director.

When base salary and benefits are combined, councillors made $27,756 in 2013 compared to $17,544 in 2008.

Director of finance Mark Roberts said the increase for 2014 was going to be 1.74 per cent. That equates to a $1,233 increase for the mayor and $463 for each councillor.

Elkerton’s resolution, which received unanimous support, means the 2014 increase was cancelled.

“People are tired of the constant increases,” said Elkerton.

“This is supposed to be public service, what we do at council. It was never meant to be a salary.”

Pay rates for council are adjusted each year according to a formula based on the median of the published salary of all Metro Vancouver mayors for the immediately preceding year.

The formula was put into place in 2008 following the recommendations of an independent committee of citizens, but was called flawed this year after council saw a seven per cent increase between 2012 and 2013.

Council attempted to deal with the bylaw earlier this year, but was unable to reach a compromise.

Mayor Deb Walters and Couns. Tracy Miyashita and Gwen O’Connell wanted to establish another independent committee to investigate how to compensate elected officials.

Others on council wanted to scrap the bylaw and tack increases to inflation or the Consumer Price Index for Metro Vancouver for the preceding year. They felt another committee would waste citizens’ time.

Tuesday’s resolutions also directed city staff to review council salaries next year.

“This is exactly what we wanted earlier in the year,” said O’Connell.

“We wanted the whole package looked at. We did not want to tie wage increases to CPP or anything. We wanted to have a clear view of what was going on.”

Mayor Walters noted that she tried to introduce a similar motion in February, calling for a review by an independent committee, but that was defeated.

“I didn’t think we warranted a raise in our stipends at that time,” said Walters, adding she has been donating the 2013 increases to the centennial committee.

Elkerton and Bell also committed to donating their increases to the centennial committee. Coun. Dave Murray directed his increase towards Pitt Meadows secondary’s basketball team.

Maple Ridge council, meanwhile, hasn’t seen a raise since 2009.