Lower pay range approved for next TransLink CEO

Deal sets maximum pay of $406,364 but mayors expect next boss of transit agency to be hired at no more than $365,000

Former TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis was removed from his position but kept on as a consultant in February. The decision by the TransLink board was made in the midst of the referendum on a sales tax increase for transit.

The next TransLink CEO will be paid significantly less than predecessor Ian Jarvis.

The TransLink board and Metro Vancouver mayors’ council have agreed on a new salary range for the position that runs from a minimum of $325,092 to a maximum of $406,364.

No bonuses or vehicle allowances will be paid.

The mayors’ council said it expects the board to recruit a new CEO at no more than $365,000 – the mid-point of the approved salary range.

If that happens, the next CEO will be paid at least 15 per cent less than $435,015 Jarvis collected in 2014. That compensation figure includes his $319,244 base salary, $18,100 in car allowance and $97,671 in bonuses, but not pension and regular benefits.

TransLink’s board has also eliminated vehicle allowances for all other executives.

Executive pay was a key factor that stirred public anger against TransLink leading up to the defeat of this year’s referendum on a sales tax increase for transit.

“We believe that by eliminating bonuses and car allowances, and cutting the number of senior positions at TransLink, we have addressed those concerns,” board chair Barry Forbes said.

He said the salary range for the CEO was guided by an analysis conducted by an independent consultant who compared TransLink to other similar public sector employers in B.C. and Canada.

“This is a very vital public service and we need good leadership.”

Not all mayors supported the new pay range for the CEO.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin voted against it, arguing it was too high and the maximum should have been cut to $365,000.

“I thought some of the comparators they used were too rich and not appropriate,” Baldwin said.

He said the consultant based the range in part on the higher executive pay levels offered at YVR airport authority, Port Metro Vancouver, B.C. Ferries, the B.C. Lotteries Corp. and B.C. Hydro.

Baldwin said the mayors did reject an even higher pay range initially proposed by the consultant and it took some “back and forth” with the board before the final pay range came back that most mayors could accept.

“I also recognized there were some concerns about the manoeuvering room – if they found a really good candidate would they be stuck and lose them for lack of $5,000 or something.”

The search for a new CEO had been put on hold this summer, at the suggestion of new Communities Minister Peter Fassbender, pending a decision on the pay issue and an exploration of possible governance reforms at TransLink.

The recruitment will now resume.

Fassbender said he supports the new pay limits, on the understanding the new CEO is hired at no more than the mid-range.

“It is a reasonable salary range,” he said, calling it a significant reduction that is “in keeping with what we see in the public service and in Crown corporations.”

Fassbender said he does not intend to make governance changes to TransLink over the short term, but is open to considering recommendations that are expected to come later this year from a new task force on the issue struck by Metro Vancouver.

The issue of CEO pay had been a sticking point for area mayors who feared TransLink might hire a new CEO at the same pay as Jarvis if an agreement wasn’t reached to reform executive compensation.

Debate among mayors on what is appropriate boiled into the open after a July 23 online job posting by a headhunting firm specified the same base salary and up to 30 per cent bonus for the next TransLink CEO.

Jarvis was replaced in February but continues at the same pay as a consultant until his contract runs out. Since his transfer, TransLink has been headed by two interim CEOs – Doug Allen and now Cathy McLay, who is also the chief financial officer.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman welcomed the end to perks like vehicle allowances, but said the new base salary should not have been increased above what Jarvis was earning after several years in the job.