Metro Vancouver politicians vote to keep their pay the same — sort of
After having an independent panel study how much they should be paid, Metro Vancouver board members have approved the status quo.
The regional board, which oversees local governments from Lions Bay to Langley Township, approved on Friday recommendations that kept the current formula for calculating pay, and opted against including a "retirement allowance" for departing members.
"I think it's appropriate," said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese.
The independent panel was created last year after Metro Vancouver directors voted to give themselves a retirement bonus of 10.2 per cent each year, retroactive to 2007. Following intense backlash, directors reversed their decision, instead opting for an independent group to make recommendations.
"I wasn't on the board at the time, but when I heard about it, I think I had the same shock as anybody else," said Froese.
"I'm glad that it's not on the table anymore and that we can move forward."
Gross pay up, net pay stable
However, the pay for Metro Vancouver board members — which includes nearly every mayor in the region, along with a number of councillors — will be increasing next year.
The panel recommended an increase to offset the effects of a measure in the 2018 federal budget which eliminated a tax benefit for municipal officials. Previously, councillors and mayors were effectively allowed to declare one-third of their salary as a tax-free allowance.
Most municipalities in the region have already made a similar increase. Metro Vancouver staff estimate the change will have an overall financial impact of $130,000 to $150,000 on its annual budget.
"Most people agree with it," said Froese.
"It's never an easy decision when you look at compensation for ourselves as elected officials, but I think it's important that we maintain the benefit for those who take time away from their businesses, their jobs and families to be appropriately compensated."
Double the salary for Electoral Area A
But the salary for one particular member of the Metro Vancouver board will be going up — even if the individual isn't known yet.
Compensation for the Electoral Area A Director will be more than doubled, going from 14.5 per cent to 30 per cent of the chair's salary, to better reflect the amount of work they do. The previous salary was $11,503.
"It's been adjusted to reflect current times," said Froese, adding that the workload of the Electoral Area A director is similar to being the mayor of a smaller community."
The director is the only directly elected regional politician representing more than 15,000 people living at or around the University of British Columbia. The director also represents people living in unincorporated areas on Barnston Island and the west side of Pitt Lake, and the area between West Vancouver and Lions Bay.
The previous director resigned due to the higher-than-expected workload and a new director will be elected June 15.