Mayors' Council get TransLink power to raise pay
New TransLink legislation could mean the Mayors' Council now set their own pay. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)
"Do you expect mayors, who are already running large organizations, to spend their time doing that for free? When you’ve got (TransLink) directors being paid quite well sitting at the table doing the same thing?" — Richard Walton
Changes by Transportation Minister Todd Stone giving elected officials more power over TransLink also allow the region’s mayors to set their own monetary compensation using their new $1-million budget.
According to the law, the current compensation for the Mayors’ Council is limited to $500 per member — after Consumer Price Index adjustments — for each of their 10 meetings annually.
The council chairperson receives an additional honorarium of no more than $5,000.
But with the changes intended to move the TransLink commissioner’s responsibilities and its funding to the mayors, the existing “cap” on remuneration is removed, according to an Acuere Consulting report ordered by the mayors.
That means mayors are going to have to figure out how much of their budget — which would’ve been up to $962,400 in 2013 — to put into their own compensation.
“It’s no different than in Metro Vancouver and all of our individual cities and jurisdictions, where what we pay ourselves is a matter for public discussion,” Richard Walton, North Vancouver District mayor and Mayors’ Council chairman, said.
“Certainly all of those funds are not intended to go into additional payments to mayors for serving.”
He said the workload of the Mayors’ Council is expected to increase, and remuneration — and any contracts for services that would be required — would be determined based on the amount of work done.
“A lot of the Mayors’ Council is obviously going to be working very closely with the board,” Walton continued.
“Do you expect mayors, who are already running large organizations, to spend their time doing that for free? When you’ve got (TransLink) directors being paid quite well sitting at the table doing the same thing?”
Not all of the commissioner’s powers would be transferred over. The Acuere report said a section that allowed the commissioner to order “inspections” on TransLink or its subsidiaries could be removed from law.
Sitting commissioner Bob Irwin said his office has never formally invoked that authority. He said the power was intended to give the commissioner powers to order TransLink to hand over financial documents.
“I don’t think it’s necessary because there’s always the ability under the Freedom of Information Act to ask TransLink for information,” he said.
“Secondly, I can’t see TransLink wanting to, working as an adversary to the Mayors’ Council.”
Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said he’ll keep an eye on the mayors’ remuneration.
“I suspect the last thing the mayors want to do in this environment is give themselves a raise,” he said.
Bateman said what is missing from the legislation is the requirement that the Mayors’ Council and all of TransLink’s various boards of directors meet in public.
TransLink board of directors chairwoman Marcella Szel said in a statement her board supports the legislation and is committed expand co-operation with the mayors.