SURREY – Two mayoral hopefuls are promising taxpayers they will axe a variety of city policies to save money. Former mayor Doug McCallum said he would get rid of a “separation allowance” afforded to Surrey’s municipal politicians when the electorate sends them packing. “Politicians know the risks of entering public life and I don’t believe that elected officials should be entitled to this kind of gold-plated severance if voters decide not to elect them again,” McCallum said. “The will of the electorate is what every politician chooses to be judged by, and that choices should not come with a safety net on the taxpayers’ dime.”
McCallum’s potential change in policy would not affect elected officials in this election. In 2008, Surrey council voted 7-2 to give themselves a 9.5-per-cent annual payment on top of their salaries (up to a maximum of 12 years). Meanwhile, One Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode says if she’s elected, she’ll stop “needless” trips to foreign countries, will get rid of the mayor’s car allowance and put a cap on expenses. “Surrey doesn’t have a money problem, it has a spending problem,” said Rasode. Mayoral opponent Linda Hepner told The Province at the time the change was about fairness. “Any time you give a politician five cents, people will say they shouldn’t have it,” she said. “There are provincial and federal (pensions) but, at the local level, Surrey has nothing.”
Hepner said it was needed to attract good people to public office, noting Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg have departure benefits and council chose the same percentage of salary. “It will give you something while you’re hunting for another job,” she said. The pensions took effect after the 2008 election.