Pitt council to donate raises to charity

Councillors received a seven per cent increase over 2012 when compounded their salaries are up 50 per cent in six years

Clockwise: Pitt Meadows mayor Deb Walters

Pitt Meadows council will donate a seven per cent salary increase received this year to charity.

City council struggled last week with a bylaw that recommended the significant increase in their remuneration while discussing proposed budget cuts and a demand for no new taxes in 2014.

Coun. Janice Elkerton failed to get support for a motion, calling for the city to disregard the bylaw and maintain council salaries at 2012 levels.

Following the meeting however, the city reported each member has decided to donate the proposed amount or a portion of the increase back to a local charity.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Coun. Elkerton. “I see this as a temporary solution but I don’t see this as the ultimate benefit to the citizen.”

Elkerton would rather see the increase returned to city coffers to offer all taxpayers relief next year.

As per the Council Indemnity Bylaw, created by a committee of residents in 2008, council salaries are reviewed on Jan. 1 each year.

The mayor’s salary is then adjusted to 75 per cent of the published median salary of all Metro Vancouver mayors for the preceding year, while councillors make 37.5 per cent of the mayor’s salary.

The pay increases were not determined by council, but recommended by an independent committee, which drafted the bylaw.

Pitt Meadows council salaries however have risen 50 per cent over six years.

In 2013, the mayor will earn $70,864, compared to $47,160 in 2008.

Councillors are set to make $26,574, compared to $17,544 in 2008. No one will get a pension from the city.

Mayor Deb Walters was extremely proud of the generosity of council and “their ongoing desire to continue to support their city and the people who live here.”

“As leaders of our city we realize that we can’t ask others to do with less, unless we are willing to do so as well,” said Walters.

“Therefore, the members of our council have individually committed to make a donation to the charity of their choice throughout the next year. Some members would like to spread out their donations to a number of community groups, while others would like to earmark their portions to a specific group or activity such as the centennial celebrations.”

Given the unusually high figure this year, council agreed to review the bylaw, re-evaluate the method for calculating salary rates and adjust them accordingly so that these “anomalies” do not occur in the future.

“We recognize this is a problem,” said Walters.

Mayor Walters, who has already donated $3,720 this year to several local charities including the Terry Fox Foundation, dry grad fundraisers and the legion’s Poppy Fund, will put her increase towards the city’s centennial celebrations, set to take place throughout 2014. It will amount to almost $5,000 and she’ll continue to donate the increase until the end of her term.

“This allows me to give a bit more,” said Walters.

She also noted that her colleagues “recognize the need to work together to keep our community strong and vibrant, and giving back is a culture ingrained around the council table, throughout the corporation and within the community as a whole.”

Coun. Elkerton and Coun. Bruce Bell will both be donating to the Centennial celebrations as well.

Elkerton will donate the entire seven per cent increase, which will amount to around $1,500, while Bell is donating 4.5 per cent or $1,200.

Other councillors did not respond to a request for information on which charities they will support by deadline.

Council has directed staff to add the Indemnity Bylaw review into their 2014 work plan.

Note: Coun. Doug Bing is no longer receiving a salary from the city since he was elected MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. He intends to resign in January.

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