Civic politicians who sit on Metro Vancouver’s board or one of its committees quietly pocketed a modest pay hike this spring.
They’re now paid $330 per meeting instead of $322.
And that stipend doubles for meetings that run longer than four hours.
The 2.5-per-cent increase happened automatically because a Metro bylaw, passed a few years ago to end the bad optics of politicians voting on their own pay, requires the meeting fees to be recalculated each year according to a formula.
The director fees are pegged to the median (mid-point) of Metro Vancouver mayors’ salaries.
That means every increase in any mayor’s pay over the last year increases the median and ratchets the regional meeting rate higher.
The city that tugged regional fees up the most was Port Coquitlam, where Mayor Greg Moore’s salary soared 27 per cent this year to $85,418.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan got a $16,500 raise (17 per cent) to $114,031.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin and Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson got increases of about $10,000, bringing their mayoral salaries to $99,436 (up 10.8 per cent) and $151,594 (up 8.3 per cent) respectively.
Moore defended his $18,000 pay increase as mayor, saying Port Coquitlam had frozen council salaries until last year, when it okayed a big increase to catch up with other cities.
“Because we hadn’t had a serious increase in several years, the increase is quite high,” he said.
Moore said a citizens advisory committee considered the issue two years ago – amid the recession – and concluded council wages should go up once when the economy recovered to bring Port Coquitlam closer in line with similar cities.
“They found the mayor and council were substantially underpaid,” he said, adding the mayor’s position had become a full-time job but was never paid accordingly.
“I want to make sure it’s fair whether I’m here or the next person’s here.”
Several cities in the region – seeking to avoid the spectre of politicians voting up their own pay – automatically tie their mayor and council wages to the regional median or that of a cluster of similar-sized Metro cities.
As a result, some mayors’ salaries rise each year and Metro’s fees rise in response – each chasing the other ever higher.
The directors’ fees add up to between $10,000 and $20,000 for most directors (on top of their council pay), although some who serve on several active committees get much more.
Moore, the chair of Metro’s waste management committee, collected $45,637 from Metro meeting fees last year, second only to the board chair’s stipend. He also collected almost $15,000 in expenses for Metro-approved travel, more than any other director.
Board chair Lois Jackson, who in previous years questioned the formula that automatically raises the fees, said Metro must use some mechanism to decide pay for its elected directors.
“You have to try and compare it with something,” she said. “You’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t.”
Jackson argued she reins in costs by not scheduling every committee to meet each month if it’s not warranted.
“I’m very conscious of not having a meeting for a meeting’s sake if we don’t have an agenda or something vitally important to be done,” she said.
“Overall travel expenses are down and overall the directors’ stipends are down as well.”
Metro directors received a total of $846,000 from meeting fees last year, plus $38,000 in travel expenses.
This year’s hike in Metro’s per meeting fees was modest – a point Jackson stressed.
But they’ve soared more than 30 per cent from 2008 levels – when councils were last elected – mainly due to a big one-year jump from $253 to $316 per meeting in 2009.
Jackson noted Metro directors are paid much less than TransLink’s unelected directors, who get $1,200 per meeting on top of a $25,000 base stipend.
But area mayors also automatically serve on another body – the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation, which approves or rejects funding increases for TransLink.
Mayors get paid $500 each time the mayors council meets and the chair (Richard Walton) gets a flat stipend of $5,000.
The flat stipends of the Metro chair and vice chair also rise at the same rate as the meeting fees.
Jackson now gets $66,082 as Metro board chair – in addition to her $100,000 salary as mayor of Delta – while vice-chair Richard Walton gets $33,041.
Metro directors earlier this year voted to limit themselves to being paid for a maximum of two meetings on the same day.
That limits them to a daily maximum of $660 and ends the possibility – which happened a couple of times last year – of directors attending three meetings in the same day for almost $1,000.
They made no move to reconsider the formula of automatic increases.
Metro board directors aren’t directly elected, they’re selected by each council.
Metro committee members are picked by the board chair.
TOP PAID METRO DIRECTORS IN 2010
Lois Jackson (Delta mayor and Metro chair): $65,939 + $2,034 expenses.Greg Moore (Port Coquitlam mayor): $45,637 + $14,792 in expensesGayle Martin (Langley City councillor): $40,471 + $3,734 expensesRichard Walton (North Vancouver District mayor and Metro vice-chair): $32,247 + $633 expensesWayne Wright (New Westminster mayor): $29,944 + $245 expensesDarrell Mussatto (North Vancouver City mayor): $27,602 + $5,765 expensesDerek Corrigan (Burnaby mayor): $26,076 + $2,104 expensesMalcolm Brodie (Richmond mayor): $22,120Tim Stevenson (Vancouver councillor): $20,793 + $50 expensesHarold Steves (Richmond councillor): $20,613Joe Trasolini (Port Moody mayor): $21,074 + $854 expensesJudy Villeneuve (Surrey councillor): $19,831
METRO PAY RATES
– Chair receives 75 per cent of the median salary of Metro mayors, or $66,082.Vice-chair receives half that amount.
– Directors are paid 0.5 per cent of the chair’s salary for every meeting they attend, currently $330. Fees double for meetings longer than four hours.
MAYORS WITH BIGGEST PAY GAINS FROM 2008-2011
Langley City’s Peter Fassbender – up 65 per cent from $44,215 to $72,986Maple Ridge’s Ernie Daykin – up 50.8 per cent from $65,920 to $99,436Langley Township’s Rick Green – up 45.2 per cent from $64,563 to $93,724Bowen Island’s Bob Turner – up 41.3 per cent from $15,457 to $21,845Pitt Meadows’ Don MacLean – up 34 per cent from $47,160 to $63,220Coquitlam’s Richard Stewart – up 28 per cent from $104,156 to $133,298Port Coquitlam’s Greg Moore – up 27 per cent from $67,277 to $85,418Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan – up 22.8 per cent from $92,857 to $114,031Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson – up 20 per cent from $126,278 to $151,594