Council expenses, staff wages climb, city debt drops

WHITE ROCK – Council spent $15,000 more in expenses for 2013 than it did the previous year, totalling $39,185 compared to $26,054 in 2012.

 

As in past years, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin’s expenses were the highest, coming in at $9,861 – $30 more than the year prior. Most of the city’s councillors came in at around half that or less, but Coun. Bill Lawrence racked up expenses almost rivaling that of the mayor’s at $9,506.

 

Asked about his expenses, Lawrence said because he was newer to council than his colleagues – having been elected in the 2012 byelection – he spent more time attending conferences than others in order to get a better handle on issues facing local governments.

 

"I went to a number of different conventions that were out of town to get up to speed on a lot of the new information that comes into play with governance and running a municipal government," he said. "So I attended a number of these conferences to get as much information as possible. Unfortunately there were a number of them out of town and that’s where a lot of the expenses came from."

 

Lawrence said he was the city’s only representative at some of the events and that the expenses merely reflect the cost of registration and travel. Lawrence noted that e always opted for the cheapest travel method.

 

"One was in Charlottetown, another in Niagara Falls and I was able to connect with a number of councillors from different cities and learn from different seminars and topics provided," he said. "They were immensely helpful in providing me the learning that it takes for being a councillor."

 

The numbers are part of the city’s 2013 Statement of Financial Information report (SOFI), an annual report in which cities are legislated to reveal their spending for the

 

previous year.

 

While the SOFI report is legislated to be made available within six months after the previous year’s end, the city was late in presenting it to the public.

 

"It was a little later than legislation requires," said the city’s director of financial services Sandra Kurylo. "Due to the extraordinary impact of the (civic) strike, staff was a little bit behind with the report. The province had been advised of that before the due date."

 

The number of employees paid more than $75,000 a year went up from 45 in 2012 to 48 in

 

2013. Twenty-two of those employees had vacation or banked time paid out.

 

Coming in as the city’s top-paid employee was city manager Dan Bottrill, who took home $183,944 in 2013, compared with $133,105 in 2012. Asked about the $50,000 increase, Kurylo said the discrepancy was due to Bottrill not having worked all of 2012 as he was hired in March of that year.

 

The city’s director of engineering and municipal operations Greg St. Louis had the second-highest pay at $146,698. He did not appear on the 2012 report due to making

 

under $75,000 that year as he was a new hire.

 

Kurylo came in as the city’s third top-paid employee having taken home $146, 265 in 2013 compared with $144,341 in 2012.

 

For 2013, the total spent overall on staff wages was $9,686,446, up from $9,065,491 in 2012. Overall staff expenses also went up $10,000 from $102,248 in 2012 to $112,396 in 2013. The total spent on staff wages in 2013 represents just under a third of the city’s total operating cost that year, which was $29,854,141. The city had originally budgeted $32,627,259 for the year but came in lower due to sanitary and storm sewer work that was deferred, savings in the RCMP contract and contingency funds that were not used.

 

Revenues also came in $33,199 lower than the expected $35,046,725 in 2013, primarily due to parkland acquisitions that did not occur and contributions towards capital projects that were budgeted but not recorded as revenue due to the work not being completed by the end of the year.

 

Finally, the city’s debt was $139,152 at the end of 2013, compared to $257,289 at the same time the year prior.

 

cpoon@thenownewspaper.com

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