Managers pay fine; what about elected officials?
It was good to see the Citizen articles of Sept. 6 and 8 about the salaries of local government staff and elected representatives. I fully agree with the editor’s comment that we must pay competitive salaries to attract good local government employees.
Frankly I don’t know how to put a value on the work of say the CAO of the CVRD but what I do know is that for someone who manages a budget of $47 million-plus, salary and benefits of $189,975 does not seem inappropriate.
I would also hasten to point out that senior local government officers only attain their positions after years of academic study, including significant post-graduate study for many, and a great deal of experience. And of course, their tenure of employment is not guaranteed. They are expected to deliver to keep their jobs.
By way of contrast, our elected representatives require no academic qualifications and have guaranteed tenure for four years. Because there is no recall mechanism the electors cannot remove them even for poor performance. We have to wait until the next election to say, “You are fired”.
Now don’t get me wrong I am not bashing all elected representatives. Many do an excellent job in representing their communities and achieve impressive results. They are the ones who are willing to take a stand for the people they represent. A good example would be Sonia Furstenau’s leadership on behalf of Shawnigan Lake on the contaminated soil issue. And there are many other past and present representatives who have in their own way been very effective on projects which are not headline grabbing but nonetheless deliver for their communities.
One of the characteristics of these achievers is that their focus is on serving their communities, not on how much they are paid. They certainly do not appear to think of what they do as a job and probably would do what they do even if they were not paid. Contrast that with the attitude of a current area director who not so long ago told me that he is not paid enough for the work he has to do. Clearly it can’t be too bad or he would resign and get a job that pays what he thinks he is worth.
Incidentally Robert Barron’s article notes the pay of local politicians but not that 30 per cent of the pay is tax free under the Municipal Officers Expense Allowance tax provisions. Also, the figure quoted does NOT include the cost of the benefits package as the article incorrectly suggests. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the area directors’ benefits package with the benefits package of a local government employee and the cost.