Time to review politicians’ pay

Editor, The News:

We taxpayers no longer can afford to allow politicians to vote themselves raises, something it seems they are doing with increasing regularity.

It seems that, irrespective of the economic climate, this practice continues.

Is the mayor of Maple Ridge worth a six-figure salary?

Are the councillors of Maple Ridge entitled to make close to $50,000 a year, for what is essentially a part-time job?

I can’t answer those questions without looking at a detailed account of what it is the mayor and councillors actually do.

I would like to see a complete breakdown on how many hours these politicians actually spend doing the business of the community.

Certainly, they are not actually running the municipality, since that job is left to the highly-paid managers within the municipal bureaucracy.

At a time when all governments in this province are under severe budget constraints, I would like to be sure that my tax dollars are not being wasted.

A suggestion was made by provincial Conservative leader John Cummins to the effect that, if each municipality could reduce their expenditures by a minuscule one percentage point, there would be no need to levy additional taxes on gasoline to pay for (so-called) “transit improvements.”

I’m not surprised that this suggestion was widely ridiculed by municipal leaders, since it represented a significant threat to the status quo.

My question is this.  Why do municipal politicians feel threatened by this suggestion?

What might they be hiding, that they are so ready to attack that which on the surface seems like an eminently sensible idea?

The average citizen would have a great deal of difficulty obtaining information as to what their elected representatives are doing and why they might be doing it.

Therefore, a salary review panel should be formed forthwith.

Its mandate would be to scrutinize every aspect of the duties of councillors and the mayor, and based on the information derived, determine an appropriate salary level. No government hacks, or politicos, thank-you, just those well-respected members of the community completely unsullied by political bias and free of personal agendas.

Panel members could be elected at the same time the municipal elections occur.

Those elected only would be able to serve a three-year term, lest they themselves become too politicized.

It is hard not be cynical as to the question of municipal salaries.

Taxes continue to rise, streets fall into disrepair, yet the mayor and council continue to increase their salaries.

These are public servants after all and as such, they should be obliged to submit to public scrutiny.

George Clarke

Maple Ridge