Editorial — Township pay raise shows lack of restraint
Restraint does not exist at Langley Township hall, at least when it comes to the salaries for the mayor and councillors.
Councillors have seen their wages rise by 112 per cent over a nine-year period, while the mayor has seen a more modest jump of 70 per cent from early 2003 to December, 2011.
The wage increase is based on a decision adopted by council back in 2000, after a task force determined that a fair way to set council wages would be to automatically boost them to the 60th percentile of the average wage levels for mayors and council members in six Lower Mainland communities — Delta, Coquitlam,. Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam and Chilliwack.
This took the controversial salary adjustment process out of the political arena, as the wage increases were automatic and were not referred to at council meetings. Nor did this policy require council members to actually justify their wage increases to the public by voting in favour.
The first increase, in 2003, was quite modest compared to earlier levels. So was the 2006 boost. This is interesting, as economic times were much better then. Councils were more restrained.
When the last council took office in December, 2008, the mayor’s salary jumped by $29,000, while councillors’ salaries jumped by $13,000. The latest increase, which took effect on Dec. 1 when the new council took office, has boosted the mayor’s salary by 12.6 per cent, to $104,596. Councillors will now get $42,936 — a 19 per cent raise.
One-third of their salaries are tax-free — a benefit that means their net paycheques are more hefty than for most people making similar wages.
Township taxpayers have been hit with significant tax increases over the same period that the salary policy has been in effect, and there is no sign of any tax freeze on the horizon. Municipal staff have also enjoyed ongoing increases, although nothing like those given to council members.
These latest increases are simply unacceptable. The entire policy on salaries needs to be reviewed again. Some members of council have talked about the need for a “net zero” increase for employees. How can they ask for this with a straight face, when their salaries jump so significantly every three years?
Many taxpayers have not seen any increase in their wages or pensions since the economy went south in 2008. It’s time council realized that fact and set a good example.