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Township mayor and council endorse formula for pay hike

Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese listens as council members debated the adoption of a new formula that could see them receive a pay raise. - Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times
Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese listens as council members debated the adoption of a new formula that could see them receive a pay raise.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

Langley Township council has approved a new formula that will calculate pay raises based on the salaries of senior police, provincial judges, federal and provincial politicians and Langley school principals, an approach that would raise their pay 3.3 per cent and pay them a travel allowance for the first time.

However, it has yet to decide when the new system will take effect.

Council voted to implement the revised formula during the Monday afternoon meeting.

It is based on a report by a five-member council remuneration task force set up to conduct an independent review, in the wake of the controversy over the last pay hike in December.

That increase, which took place when the new council took office, boosted Mayor Jack Froese’s annual salary by 12.6 per cent and councillor pay rates by 19 percent.

Froese called on council to adopt the recommendations from task force members Deanna Horn, Darcy Rezac, Barbara Sharp, Andrea Soberg and Bob Wilson.

“This is not an easy task,” Froese said. “Nobody likes to vote on their own pay increase.”

The new formula was adopted over the objection of Councillor Kim Richter, who called the suggested increase “outrageous” at a time when most taxpayers aren’t getting pay raises.

“This just adds insult to their injury,” Richter said.

“(A council hike of) 3.3 per cent on top of a 19 per cent increase is just not going to be palatable to taxpayers,” Richter said.

Richter said if the new $850 a month travel allowance for the mayor and the new $340 a month travel allowance for councillors is included in the calculations, the compensation increase is considerably bigger than 3.3 per cent.

She said it works out to a 14.4 per cent pay hike for the mayor, while councillors get a 12.4 per cent boost.

Councillors Charlie Fox and Bob Long joined Richter in voting against the proposal.

Long wanted more time to consider the recommendations while Fox wanted implementation of the new formula postponed until after the next municipal election, something the task force opposed.

“If you delay three years, it’s going to be a big increase,” Rezac told council, urging them to implement the pay hikes this January.

“Our view is very strongly that you implement this immediately.”

As the evening council meeting was wrapping up, Fox tried once again to get council to delay implementing the pay raises until after the next election.

Instead, council decided to do what Long wanted, and defer the whole matter until the next meeting on Dec. 3, when the absent Councillor Michelle Sparrow would be present to vote.

Councillor Grant Ward served notice that he is against a delay that would mean a bigger catch-up pay hike post-election.

“There’s going to be a lot of howls (if we do that),” Ward predicted.

Councillor David Davis appeared to be leaning towards postponing the hikes until after the next election, saying, “I just don’t feel I should give myself a raise”

The new formula does away with the practice of basing council salaries on the increases approved by other Lower Mainland municipal councils, a practice critics have said leads all too easily into a round-robin of accelerating pay hikes.

Instead, the new formula uses an average of the salaries of a federal MP, provincial MLA, provincial government cabinet minister, Langley RCMP superintendent and the principal of the largest high school in Langley.

Sharp, the task force chair, said they decided against using an average of private sector salaries because “the comparators would have gone through the roof.”

A provincial court judge makes $231,138, followed by an MP at $157,731, a provincial cabinet minister at $137,509, RCMP superintendent at $135,145, Langley school district high school principal at $121,890 and provincial MLA at $101,859.

The committee threw out the highest and lowest salaries and averaged out the ones in the middle to produce a figure of $138,086, then calculated the mayor’s pay rate at 80 per cent of the average, and councillors’ pay at 40 per cent of the mayor’s pay.

The end result was a recommended boost of the mayor’s salary from $105,456 to $110,454.

The travel allowance will add another $10,200, to bring the mayor’s total compensation package to $120,654.

Councillors’ pay will rise from $42,936 to $44,181, and their travel allowance will add another $4,080, to bring the total to $48,261 annually for each of the eight councillors.

According to the task force’s own estimates, the average residential taxpayer in the Township of Langley will now pay $9 a year to cover an annual council salary tab of $547,263, an increase of $1.

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