Civic politicians pitch longer terms to axe ‘double-dip’ salaries 0
A Union of B.C. Municipalities resolution is seeking to extend the amount of time civic politicians hold office to four years to avoid conflicts, pricy byelections, absences in council and so-called “double-dipping” of provincial and municipal salaries.
According to Squamish Coun. Patricia Heintzman, who heads the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, the topic of extending the current three-year civic terms to match terms of provincial politicians was narrowly struck down two years ago at UBCM.
So she’s bringing back the resolution this year.
“It seems intuitive to make it so … people aren’t putting the position in conflict or double-dipping or having too much work, and you don’t have to put council in the position of expensive byelections,” Heintzman said Wednesday.
Twelve civic politicians were elected into the legislature in May, including Pitt Meadows Coun. Doug Bing, now a Liberal MLA and a serving councillor.
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA said he has already refused to collect municipal salary as of June 1 and intends to step down after Jan. 2, 2014, which means his resignation won’t trigger a byelection.
He promised he would “definitely” attend council meetings up until his resignation.
“For some communities, (byelections) are quite expensive. For example, Surrey has a cost of $600,000,” Bing said.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender is another civic politician who moved to the legislature. According to Langley City staff, Fassbender has taken an unpaid leave of absence until Jan. 2, when he’ll submit his resignation.
Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt, also elected as a Liberal, is donating his civic salary back to the city, according to Surrey spokeswoman Amanda Silvers.
“With respect to council meetings, (Coun.) Hunt intends to attend council meetings as often as possible and recognizes the need to meet legislative requirements.”
He will be staying on “at least” through end of 2013.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, meanwhile, hasn’t decided whether he’ll step down or not. He said on Wednesday he needs to talk to the rest of his council when civic meetings begin again next month.
“I generally support a four-year term. I think I voted in that way (last time),” he said of the resolution.
He promised there would be a decision made next month.
In 1969, Nanaimo Mayor Frank Ney made the precedent of sitting in both the provincial legislature and civic council chambers, added Pitt Meadow Coun. Bing.