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City of Vancouver PR staff cost $1.6 million last year

The City of Vancouver paid more than $1.6 million to 33 people in its communications department in 2013, according to city hall pay records released via Freedom of Information to CityHallWatch and provided to this reporter.
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A B.C. Public Sector Compensation Review by Ernst and Young for the provincial government found the City of Vancouver had the highest-paying strategic leadership category of those for which data was available. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The City of Vancouver paid more than $1.6 million to 33 people in its communications department in 2013, according to city hall pay records released via Freedom of Information to CityHallWatch and provided to this reporter.

Almost two-dozen employees received less than $75,000, for a total of $798,407.34. Ten communications directors earned $75,000 or more. That list, totalling $845,504.32 was topped by Tracy Vaughan ($97,415.98) and Mairi Welman, who quit in summer 2013 to join District of North Vancouver ($131,354.37).

The city releases its list of personnel paid $75,000 and up within its statement of financial information. It does not publish the list of those who earn less than $75,000, a list that includes political appointees in the Office of the Mayor. It took nearly nine months, including a complaint to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, for CityHallWatch to receive the information.

Kevin Quinlan, the mayor’s top policy and communications aide, was paid $66,305.92 in 2012 plus $3,148.19 in expenses. He got a raise in 2013 to $72,655.86 plus $6,324.65 expenses.

Joining the Mayor’s office in spring 2012 was Braeden Caley, who was paid $44,111.17 that year. Caley received $68,445.50 salary and $1,149.01 expenses for the full year in 2013.

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s now-retired executive secretary, Alison Abu-Arisheh, was paid $69,784.73 and his director of community relations, Lara Honrado, was paid $68,460.45 last year.

Also released was the list of 19 people who received more than $1.5 million in severance payments in 2012 and 2013.

Ex-planning director Brent Toderian was terminated in late January 2012 and received $211,828. Toderian’s severance was the biggest among the 19 people listed. He was hired six years earlier under the administration of NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan and was paid $201,300 in 2011.

Other notables on the severance list include Laurie Best, director of the web renewal program ($71,464.82) and director of emergency management Kevin Wallinger ($42,648). In 2011, Best was paid $129,860 and Wallinger $152,089.

The biggest severance in 2013 was $108,215.68 for human resources consultant Suzanne Booker.

Meanwhile, a B.C. Public Sector Compensation Review by Ernst and Young for the provincial government found City of Vancouver had the highest-paying strategic leadership category of those for which data was available.

In 2013, city manager Penny Ballem was paid $339,219, solicitor Francie Connell $301,117 and chief financial officer Patrice Impey $271,708.

By comparison, John Dyble, head of the public service, was the B.C. government’s highest-paid deputy minister at $308,115 for the year-ended March 31, 2014. Deputy minister of health is a position Ballem held until she quit in 2006. Last year, Stephen Brown was paid $259,603.

bob@bobmackin.ca
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