Taxpayers shell out more than $1 million to pay for city council salaries

Vancouver Courier

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Mayor Gregor Robertson earned $168,065 last year, which was considerably less than his counterparts in other Canadian cities. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Hey taxpayer, guess how much it cost to pay for the salaries of your mayor and 10 city councillors last year?

Try $1,079,826.

That total is according to the city’s latest breakdown of your elected officials’ earnings for 2017.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, as you would expect, pulled in the most dough at $168,065. Second to him was Vision Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson, who collected $102,926.

What makes Stevenson so special?

The communications department at city hall told me Stevenson earned more than his council mates largely because of his responsibilities as deputy mayor in 2017.

He was deputy mayor long enough to earn an extra $15,142. Then he received $3,038 to cover fees as a duty councillor and another $3,038 to be used to buy health and medical insurance.

Add his “basic remuneration” of $81,708 as a councillor to those numbers and that brings Stevenson’s total to $102,926.

Vision Coun. Raymond Louie was the third highest paid member of council, topping out at $98,002. The additional pay was largely because of Louie’s duties as acting mayor.

His Vision mate, Andrea Reimer, collected $90,959 while colleagues Kerry Jang, Heather Deal and NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball earned $90,821. Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr received $87,784, the same amount as NPA councillors Melissa De Genova and George Affleck.

Former Vision councillor Geoff Meggs, who resigned last summer to become Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, collected $71,643 before he left. The NPA’s Hector Bremner, who filled the vacancy on council after winning the October byelection, earned $12,416 in 2017.

I should note—as I do most times when I report on how much city council is paid—the money that your local politicians earn does not include the extra cash they pull in for their duties at Metro Vancouver.

Louie, for example, earns $38,737 as vice-chairperson of Metro. All civic politicians serving on the Metro board and committees earn $387 for each meeting that lasts up to four hours. The rate climbs to $775, if the meeting extends past four hours.

Enough about salaries.

Thought you might be interested in the mayor’s expenses for 2017, which included travel and conferences ($41,820), local expenses ($19,174) and “discretionary expenses,” which totalled $706,165.

The bulk of the discretionary expenses­–$545,393—was spent on “political staff salaries and benefits.” Another $116, 542 covered consultant services. Office supplies and services totalled $18,437.

Meeting expenses, which included food and entertainment, came in at $8,214. Transportation expenses for staff, including cabs and car share, totalled $2,383.

Robertson did a lot of travelling last year, visiting the following places: Victoria, Ottawa, Haida Gwaii, Seattle, Toronto, Chicago, Belgium, New York, Australia and China.

At least four of the trips saw organizers of conferences pay for some of the costs, including $5,918 at the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Board meeting in Belgium and $2,368 at the Big City Mayors’ conference and C40 Summit Awards in Toronto and Chicago.

The mayor’s local expenses were largely for communication and supplies ($9,546) and $7,175 for a transportation allowance. His Board of Trade membership was $699 and business and event expenses were $1,754.

So there you go, I showed you the money.

If you think Robertson and his councillors earn too much, consider that Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson’s salary this year is $200,586 and his councillors make $113,325.

In Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi earns more than $200,000 and his councillors top out at $113,416.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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