Richter calls for performance-based salaries

Councillor’s motion to examine ‘very generous pay increase’ referred to Feb. 13 workshop

Langley Township Councillor Kim Richter is calling for an examination of council's 'very generous pay raises.'

Langley Township Councillor Kim Richter is calling for an examination of council's 'very generous pay raises.'

Township council members have ruled out having any bureaucrats becoming involved in an examination of council’s salary.

But at the Jan. 23 meeting, council appeared to drag its feet on a motion by Councillor Kim Richter which supported a “detailed review” by staff.

Richter’s motion, amended against her wishes, was ultimately referred to the Feb. 13 council workshop.

Four days before they were formally sworn into office on Dec. 5, council members received what Richter described as a “very generous pay increase.”

Mayor Jack Froese’s annual salary rose by 12.6 per cent, jumping by almost $1,000 per month to $105,456 from $93,724.

The salaries of Councillors David Davis, Grant Ward, Richter, Bob Long, Bev Dornan, Steve Ferguson, Charlie Fox and Michelle Sparrow rose 19 per cent, giving them almost $7,000 more a year and bringing their salaries to $42,936, up from $36,043.

Richter’s motion noted that the system used to arrive at those increases has been in place since 2000 and has not had an in-depth review since then.

She wants it linked to performance, and not made automatically every three years, as it is now.

Before it was referred to the council workshop, council amended the motion to exclude staff from the review, and substituted a citizen’s committee.

Fox said that referring the motion gives council the time and opportunity to think about the structure of the pay increases.

All members of council either have other jobs or are collecting government pensions. Fox is a retired Langley School District principal; Froese and Ward are retired police officers, and Ferguson recently retired as a high school counsellor.

Ferguson said that council raises are always a “very, very difficult” issue.

While he commented that a second look would be welcome, Ferguson said: “Now is not the time to cut back remuneration.”

Richter thought otherwise. “Essentially, I think we are very well paid now. We have had two very generous increases (and) the pay level is comfortable and generous.”

Any increase should be a bonus based on performance, she suggested. If based on tax increases, the format would compel council to meet earlier in the budget process to come up with ways to meet budget targets.

“We should be a trendsetter here and blaze the trail,” Richter said.

From 2003 to the end of 2011, the salary of a councillor has more than doubled, and that for mayor has risen by almost 70 per cent.

During the same time, the B.C. minimum wage was frozen at $8 an hour. In May, 2011 it rose by 75 cents an hour, then rose again to $9.50 on Nov. 1, giving those at that rate an annual salary of under $20,000 a year, for a 40-hour work week.

The current council indemnity system was set in August, 2000, when council approved the recommendation of the task force that tied salaries to market surveys every three years to determine the 60th percentile of direct pay rates for the jobs of mayor and councillors.

The market surveys focus on the same six municipalities, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Delta, Maple Ridge and Port Coquitlam.