Delta council candidate Mike Smith wants all newly elected city officials to stay away from golden handshakes.
In a press release issued on Sept. 20, Smith denounced council’s unanimous decision last year to give themselves and future councillors a “service benefit” upon leaving office, whether it be through retirement or losing a bid for re-election.
“It was all done really quietly. The only mention of this whole thing is buried in a report by Delta’s then-city manager about pay raises. I get angry every time I think about it,” Smith said in a press release.
Starting this year, elected officials will receive a lump-sum payout upon leaving office that is equal to what the city’s contribution to the municipal pension plan would be if they were treated as employees. (In Delta, mayor and councillors are not eligible to join the city’s pension plan.) The benefit will be applied retroactively for up to 12 years of continuous service.
The way the benefit was passed without debate or public consultation is one of the big reasons Smith felt compelled to run for council.
“Everyone on this Delta council worked out a golden handshake for themselves and backdated it 12 years. Only after the media questioned them a year later they tried to justify what a busy job it is being a city councillor,” Smith said.
“At over $50,000 a year plus expenses, I think Delta council is well compensated already. If they think they deserve more, I ask what happened to that motto ‘service before self’ we hear so much about. Let the people decide.”
Smith is challenging all incoming city councillors to sign a pledge they will not vote to give themselves golden handshakes in the future, and though he says there’s likely nothing that can be done about “the deal the current Delta council and mayor made themselves,” he is challenging them to freeze their lump-sum payouts to whatever they would be owed as of this year.
Similarly, Smith platform also strives to end what he termed “double dipping” by challenging everyone entering council to sign a pledge stating that if they are voted into another public office and do not resign their seat on council, they agree to donate their entire council salary to a local charitable group.
Smith said his campaign will also detail Delta’s poor taxation and finances. Smith pointed to how the city’s taxation revenue has been well above the Metro Vancouver average, yet Delta does not have the facilities to show for it.
The civic election will take place on Oct. 20, with advance voting on Oct. 6, 10 and 11.