Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore is mayor of Port Coquitlam.

Metro takes hard look at management pay levels

Regional district's new CAO leading wage review, restructuring

Metro Vancouver is conducting an extensive review of salaries for all management staff to determine if their pay levels are appropriate.

It comes as the regional district released annual financial disclosures showing it paid out $142 million in pay and benefits to employees last year.

Metro paid 369 employees more than $100,000 last year and some Metro directors have questioned whether pay levels are too high.

Chief administrative officer Carol Mason, who is leading the pay review as well as an ongoing restructuring at Metro, said the regional government is overdue for such an exercise.

It last did one in 2008 but has a policy of reassessing pay levels every three years.

“My early impression is I wouldn’t say we are overstaffed, but that’s part of the process we are going through,” Mason said.

Salaries and duties for Metro’s non-union staff are being compared against similar positions in local cities over the next several months.

Mason has ordered a freeze on new hiring until the review is complete.

Metro board chair Greg Moore said the aim is to “ensure we’re not too high or too low in the pay bands we have compared to other equivalent-type employment.”

A finding that pay levels are too high and need to be decreased would be “very difficult” to apply to current staff who would likely be grandfathered, he said.

In the past BC Hydro has poached many Metro engineers, putting upward pressure on those salaries to stay competitive.

Local cities are also routinely raiding staff from each other or from Metro.

North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton said his city lost five newly hired planning department staff to offers of higher pay from cities south of the Fraser almost immediately after they were trained.

“We were actually paying the training costs and other communities were immediately benefitting from the result,” Walton said, adding the loss slowed building permit approval times in North Van District.

Consulting firms and other cities, including ones in Alberta, are the main expected competitors who will be headhunting more Metro staffers in the years ahead.

The financial disclosures show last year’s highest payout of $523,000 went to retired policy and planning manager Toivo Allas, but included an unusual payout of banked holiday time accrued over four decades.

Mason, who took over as CAO last fall after longtime CAO Johnny Carline retired, earns $270,000 a year.

Deputy CAO Delia Laglagaron’s remuneration of $311,000 last year was unusually high because she was performing extra duties as acting CAO for most of the year.

The highest paid managers at Metro are water services general manager Tim Jervis at $218,000; external relations director Heather Schoemaker at $208,000; corporate services general manager Ralph Hildebrand at $196,000; liquid waste services general manager Simon Ho at $185,000; and acting chief financial officer Phil Trotzuk at $173,000.

There’s been a major turnover in management in the past year.

Besides Carline, former chief financial officer Jim Rusnak and planning, parks and environment manager Gaetan Royer both left as part of administrative restructuring.

According to disclosures, severance payouts were made to five management employees in 2012 for between one and 15 months’ pay.

Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the review, but added pay reviews at government agencies sometimes come back recommending “raises for everyone.”

He said Metro’s pay grid looks too high, noting CAO Mason makes more than provincial government deputy ministers, who earn around $230,000.

Bateman said no politician is directly accountable to voters for how the regional district spends taxpayer dollars. Mayors and councillors serve as Metro directors but tend to be mainly focused on their own cities.

He said Metro has “grown out of control” over the years, adding social housing and culture offerings that go well beyond the regional district’s core mandate of dealing with drinking water, sewage, garbage and perhaps regional parks.

Bateman said complaints of inter-city poaching of key staff among Metro’s 21 member municipalities suggests amalgamating some of them would be more efficient.

“You wonder if you’d have as much problems if you had six or eight larger municipalities instead of a whole bunch of smaller ones competing with each other and driving up prices.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read