Nice work if you can get it

Dozens of municipal chief administrative officers in B.C. earn more than the White House chief of staff.

Dozens of municipal chief administrative officers in B.C. earn more than the White House chief of staff, notes IntegrityBC’s executive director Dermod Travis.

Jack Lew’s $172,200 salary last year was less than CAOs (city managers) in Richmond, Delta, North Vancouver (City and District), Kelowna, Maple Ridge, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Kamloops, Langley City, Pitt Meadows, White Rock, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.

Penny Ballem in Vancouver earned $324,110 last year to top them all, and it gets worse for taxpayers. Among 30 cities covered by the Vancouver Sun’s public sector salaries database, 116 municipal employees in B.C. earned more than Lew.

Some small-town B.C. bureaucrats are making hefty salaries, too. Lillooet’s CAO is paid $120,316 annually to watch over 2,322 residents, which translates to $110 apiece for only one municipal employee.

An article last year by Record reporter Scott Stanfield found that in 2010, 45 employees of the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland and Comox Valley Regional District earned more than $75,000 each. Twelve exceeded the six-figure mark, led by Courtenay administrator Sandy Gray, who made $175,112, plus expenses.

We don’t question their qualifications or their hard work and we aren’t ready to swing the pendulum as far as Comox Valley Common Sense would like.

However, considering the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says municipal spending in B.C. has risen to “nearly four times the rate of population growth over the last decade,” even after adjusting for inflation, Common Sense’s push for civic fiscal responsibility is easy to understand.

As such, Victoria might be onto something with its proposal to create an auditor general for local government.

By law, local governments must balance their budget. If they do it just by raking more taxes from us rather than making prudent decisions, maybe they need some oversight.

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