Raises all around for Chilliwack mayor and council

Chilliwack's six city councillors got a 7.5 per cent pay raise for 2014.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson/FILE

Few people run for political office for the money, but the gigs get more and more lucrative all the time.

Pay for the top job at city hall increased 18 per cent since 2010 when the mayor made $78,097.

This year Mayor Sharon Gaetz will earn a tidy $92,361 and the six city councillors take home $34,448 for the part-time job.

(By “top job” we mean top elected official. The city’s chief administrative officer Peter Monteith made $235,146 in 2013 and 53 staffers earned more than Gaetz.)

That’s because, once again, a formula used every three years means a 2014 raise for Chilliwack municipal elected officials. This is something that does not come before city council and is not reported by city hall in any way unless requested.

In January 2011, the mayor’s salary quietly went from $78,097 to $87,022 and city council salaries went from $26,648 to $31,025.

Those raises were based on a council remuneration bylaw that sees pay rates reviewed and adjusted every three years through an averaging of the five B.C. local governments immediately larger than Chilliwack, in terms of population, the five immediately smaller, and Abbotsford.

The policy creates a feedback loop of ever-increasing paycheques because some of those 11 communities use a similar formula that includes Chilliwack.

In 2008, that meant a raise for the mayor from $69,468 to $76,491, and for councillors, from $23,156 to $26,100.

In the intervening two years between the raises, council’s pay is increased based on the Vancouver Consumer Price Index (CPI). Those CPI measures meant that by 2013 Gaetz’s salary was up to $90,091 and the pay for Couns. Chuck Stam, Ken Huttema, Ken Popove, Sue Attrill, Stewart McLean and Jason Lum, to $32,119.

The mayor’s salary went up by 2.5 per cent for 2014 and the six councillors received a 7.3 per cent increase.

Gaetz made a further $28,683 and claimed $2,534 in expenses for 2013 as chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) board, bringing her total taxpayer-paid salary to more than$120,000 for 2014.

Coun. Chuck Stam also earned an extra $8,356 for his role on the FVRD board, and Couns. Ken Popove and Jason Lum each took home $6,613 for their FVRD roles.


Other highly paid local government employees

While the Times has already reported that 94 employees of the City of Chilliwack were paid more than $75,000 last year, and of those, 36 made more than $100,000, there are other local statements of remuneration left unexamined.

If 94 sounds like a lot, at School District No. 33, 460 employees earned more than $75,000 in 2013 for a total district expenditure of $39.3 million. Topping that pay list was superintendent Evelyn Novak who made $141,519.

At the FVRD, 16 employees made more than $75,000 in 2013. Number one on that the list was director of corporate and electoral area administration Suzanne Gresham at $161,863 followed by director of engineering and community services Tareq Islam at $162,385.

At the Cultus Lake Park Board, only three employees made more than $75,000: Ron Campbell, David Stelmack and Jesse Miller.

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