Metro politicians reject lower appearance fee
Published Monday, January 28, 2013 7:02PM PST
Last Updated Monday, January 28, 2013 7:03PM PST
Metro Vancouver board members have rejected a proposed bylaw amendment seeking to lower how much they get paid for attending meetings and events.
Currently under the Board and Committee Remuneration Bylaw, politicians are paid on top of their regular salary for attending events including courses, conventions, seminars, workshops and conferences.
Councillors and mayors are paid $346 for combined travel and attendance time of less than four hours, or $700 for anything after that.
Metro Vancouver staff suggested lowering the fee to a flat rate of $100 per day, but the idea was rejected by the mayors committee.
Jordan Bateman, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said politicians are “double-dipping” by taking taxpayers money to attend events in addition to their regular salary.
“This kind of spending just drives taxpayers crazy,” Bateman said. “Especially when every single one of these people is a mayor or councillor in one our communities and we’re already paying them to represent us.”
He said the remuneration would be acceptable if Metro Vancouver wasn’t increasing taxes, but “virtually every municipality is increasing their [property] taxes this year.”
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she is paid for events like ribbon-cutting ceremonies, but that a lot of work can go into preparing for them.
“For a board meeting, you could have an agenda of up to 600 pages to read and understand in order to vote on issues,” she said.
But Jackson doesn’t agree with board members getting paid for simply observing an event, and said those politicians should waive their fee.
“I have difficulty with getting paid for that,” she said. “I think you have to be assigned to go and you have to have work that you’re going to be doing, either in prep time or actually at an event…but if you’re just one of the crowd, I don’t think you should be getting remuneration, no.”
Typically Metro Vancouver mayors on the board will have 30 to 40 committee meetings each year.
On average, board member politicians receive up to $20,000 a year in addition to their regular salaries for special appearances. In 2011 those appearances amounted to $714,000.
Jackson said she’ll revisit the issue when a new board takes over later this year.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger