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Chilliwack city council remuneration steady, expenses on the rise

Education and conferences to help the city long-term lead to the bump

Pay for Chilliwack city council has increased only slightly in recent years, but more education and conferences bumped up expenses.

After a 111 per cent increase in expenses in 2015 over 2014, the dollar figure jumped again 27 per cent for 2016, according to the annual remuneration report provided by staff at the June 20 meeting.

The six city councillors and Mayor Sharon Gaetz billed taxpayers for a total of $49,069 in expenses and $3,181 in mileage. That total of $52,249 is up from $41,132 in 2015 and $19,486 in 2014.

Topping the list on expenses, and almost double the second highest, was Coun. Sam Waddington at $15,260. Next was Coun. Sue Attrill at $8,896 followed by Coun. Christ Kloot at $7,556.

Waddington said last year he attended a number of conferences to learn and to bring ideas back to the community, as well as to build relationships with both provincial and municipal colleagues, something that should help Chilliwack.

“This last year I focused on educating myself and gathering information on the projects that I have been trying to move forward for Chilliwack,” Waddington said.

A global cycling conference in Vancouver that he attended was beneficial in creating the city’s new cycling plan. He added that staying on top of emerging trends and urban planning ideas saves the municipality money.

“I can confidently say that through my attendance at the conferences that I went to this past year the City of Chilliwack has seen financial savings both in the short term and the long term,” he said.

Coun. Sue Attrill said her jump in expenses from $5,144 in 2015 to $8,896 in 2016 was because she was able to participate in more conferences as she was not working full-time.

“As you know they are a great opportunity to lobby other levels of government and make sure that Chilliwack is front of mind for funding and support,” she said.

Coun. Chuck Stam’s expenses went from $1,516 in 2015 to $5,475 in 2016 because he attended the Lower Mainland Local Government Association conference in the spring and the Union of B.C. Municipalities in the fall, something he did not do in the previous year.

The role of city councillor is a part-time job, pay for which in 2016 was $35,176 plus $1,572, mostly for the role of acting mayor. That’s up only slightly from $34,793 in 2015 and $34,448 in 2014.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz was paid $94,311 in 2015 and incurred $3,255 in expenses, up from $93,285 in 2014.

In a little over a decade, the pay for the mayor’s office has increased 36 per cent from $69,468 in 2006 to today.

Pay for the part-time job of sitting as a city councillor went up 50 per cent from $23,156 in 2006 to $34,793 last year.

Over that period, in addition to annual cost of living increases, the remuneration has been specifically increased in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

More than 50 city staffers are paid more money than the mayor.