As a taxpayer you’re footing the bill for elected officials, but do you know how much your local councillors, RDN directors and school board trustees are banking?
With municipal and school board elections coming this fall, the salaries of politicians are now in flux.
Lucky Butterworth, director of finance with the City of Parksville, said remuneration is reassessed at the end of each term, before the inauguration of the next board or council.
Butterworth explains “remuneration is what they (elected officials) are paid annually.”
He noted the city’s current bylaw prohibits councillors from changing their own remuneration — instead they change it at the end of their term and the new numbers are in effect for the next board.
In Parksville, Butterworth said based on last year’s numbers the mayor made $33,500, while the six city councillors raked in $13,945 for what are considered part-time positions. Meanwhile, the city’s top paid staffer CAO Fred Manson pulled in $154,145.
Parksville mayor Chris Burger, who recently announced he will be stepping down this fall, said the remuneration of elected officials on the local level is “ridiculous.”
“The reality today in a position like mayor is that you are committing yourself to something more like a full-time job,” he said. “You might not be in the office eight hours per day but you’re often meeting and talking with people seven days a week.”
Burger said the low compensation for elected officials hinders many qualified people from running for office.
“By not having enough remuneration you disqualify a large number of people from being able to take on these positions,” he said. “At the end of the day we want young people in these positions.”
Burger said he first delved into politics when he was 27 years old in an effort to “give back to the community.”
“It’s been a tremendous experience,” he said. “But I feel that we need a lot of young people involved today and we don’t see that and the predominate reason isn’t because they’re unwilling to, it’s because they can’t afford to.”
Burger said “it’s ridiculous that you can have a mayor and council whose combined remuneration is sometimes less than one member of administration.”
The city’s deputy clerk Amanda Weeks said as it currently stands the remuneration of elected officials in Parksville increases in line with the consumer price index (CPI) — a national measure of inflation.
Weeks said politicians have the option of signing up for benefits, and they are reimbursed for travel expenses.
In Qualicum Beach both the mayor and town councillors have higher remuneration rates than Parksville.
The town’s financial administrator John Marsh confirmed last year the mayor made $34,474 while the four councillors made $20,835. He said increases are also determined by the the CPI.
The RDN board is composed of 17 members — one chair and 16 directors. Seven of the members are area directors who represent a specific rural area and the remaining ten are members appointed from councils in Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Lantzville.
According to RDN manager of administrative services Jackie Hill the base remuneration for all directors is $11,855, however the chair receives an additional allowance of $14,395 and area directors receive an additional $6,585.
“It (the additional allowance) recognizes the additional time electoral area directors spend in their regions,” said Hill. “They also get an additional meeting pay on top of their remuneration.”
Hill said if the chairperson is also an electoral area director he or she would be able to receive the base remuneration and both additional allowances, meaning chair Joe Stanhope who also represents the electoral area of French Creek receives $32,835 annually.
However, Hill said the RDN’s remuneration numbers are currently in flux — the remuneration committee (responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on the salary of elected officials) recently completed a report that was sent back to RDN staff for review.
School District 69’s board of trustees is made up of five elected members, one of whom is the chairperson. Board chair Lynette Kershaw told The NEWS in June that trustees receive a total remuneration of $9,720, a number well below the provincial average, while the chairperson receives $11,400.