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Strathcona directors don’t want to pass the buck ... to themselves

An outside consultant will recommend a new pay rate for Strathcona Regional District officials after some directors decided they are uncomfortable setting their own wages.

Last month Maurice Lamb of Lamb and Associates reviewed the regional district’s remuneration bylaw, which sets directors’ wages, but his report did not include a clear enough recommendation for some directors who want better instruction.

Brenda Leigh, director for Area D, said it would be inappropriate for board members to decide each others’ salaries.

“It will get ugly. It will fracture our board,” Leigh said at a board meeting Jan. 24. “I don’t want to set my own pay. I want my pay to be according to what’s fair around the province. I don’t want to set my own pay and I don’t want anyone around this board to set it for me.”

Director Mary Storry, also a Campbell River city councillor, suggested the board invite Lamb back to present a clear recommendation to the board at a special Committee of the Whole meeting. That motion was passed by the board but not all directors were in agreement.

Coun. and Director Larry Samson said it was shirking their responsibilities.

“I’m opposed to the motion,” he said. “To me this is just passing the buck and getting someone else to make our decision for us. Here’s the information and we have to take the information and make our decision on the best information available.”

That information was compiled in Lamb’s report and was generated partly through individual interviews and consultation with each individual board member.

Leigh said part of the process was identifying the roles and responsibilities of each director.

“I gave Mr. Maurice Lamb a report on the work that I do and he knows how hard an electoral area director works, the workload is obviously heavy,” Leigh said. “Remuneration-wise we’re so unappreciated. If my constituents knew what I was making they would be appalled. I don’t do it for the money.”

According to the Strathcona Regional District’s 2011 Financial Statements, regional directors made the following salaries: Craig Anderson ($49,062), Jim Abram ($32,477), Gerald Whalley ($28,348), Noba Anderson ($27,615), Leigh ($27,493), Ted Lewis ($17,528), Claire Moglove ($14,618), Storry ($13,643), John MacDonald ($13,618), Ryan Mennie ($1,349), Andy Adams ($1,224) and Jude Schooner ($719). Schooner did not serve a full year as it was an election year and therefore didn’t take office until December 2011.

Lamb said in his report the Strathcona Regional District is in the top 75 per cent of B.C. regional district pay rates.

Adams said a provincial comparison is helpful but added he would rather see a B.C.-wide pay rate established by one official body.

“The problem I have is when you have a bunch of consultants going around getting varying figures,” he said. “I would be more of an advocate of going through AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities) or UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) to get a benchmark established for regional districts province-wide.”

Storry agreed.

“I think we should pursue UBCM,” she said, adding that having Lamb return to present a recommendation to the board doesn’t mean what he suggests has to be adopted.

“We’re asking him to give us a recommendation,” Storry said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to take it. It’s just to start the discussion. We’re not shrugging our responsibility to our electorate, we’re just finding a place to start.”

It may, however, be difficult for Lamb to come up with a clear recommendation as Lamb notes there is a lack of consistency and logic around the province when it comes to regional district pay levels.

“As a result it is difficult to make a recommendation on changing remuneration levels in Strathcona Regional District based solely on survey data,” Lamb writes in his report. “Therefore it is recommended that position profiles be developed that would assist the board and the public with a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of the three positions held as a regional district board member.”

Having said that, Lamb is recommending the Strathcona Regional District adopt pay levels comparable to the Central Kootenay Regional District – the highest in the province.

 

Provincial regional district pay rates

 

  • Central Kootenay - $12,072 (municipal director); $31,128 (electoral director); $29,604 (board chair)
  • Comox Valley - $10,377 (municipal); $20,709 (electoral); $33,161 (chair)
  • Strathcona - $10,372 (municipal); $20,699 (electoral); $33,145 (chair)
  • Bulkley-Nechako - $7,716 (municipal); $12,492 (electoral); $7,488 (chair)
  • Squamish Lillooet - $6,934 (municipal); $9,837 (electoral); $10,105 (chair)
  • Kitimat-Stikine - $5,000 (municipal); $6,800 (electoral); $5,885 (chair)
  • Okanagan-Similkameen - $3,804 (municipal); $13,140 (electoral); $19,716 (chair)
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