SURREY — The numbers are in and Surrey City Council cost taxpayers more than $930,541 last year, up from approximately $825,000 in 2016.
That includes each member’s salary, taxable benefits and expenses for 2017.
Mayor Linda Hepner makes the most. Her base salary in 2017 was approximately $139,023 (up from 132,470 in 2016) and she received $15,137.58 in other taxable benefits, almost all of which went to a car allowance.
Surrey’s eight councillors each received just over $70,830 in 2017 as a base salary, up from approximately $67,000 in 2016 and $63,300 the year prior.
In all, Surrey City Council expensed approximately $116,000 in 2017, up from $105,000 in 2016 and $87,100 in 2015.
Councillor Bruce Hayne expensed the most with approximately $31,167 (up from $16,700 in 2016).
Asked about his expenses, Hayne said much of the bills were related to attending “Smart City” conferences.
“I’ve been asked by the city to go to certain conferences, and I’ve been asked by certain conferences to go and speak,” he told the Now-Leader. “It allowed us to be a leader in Canada in Smart City Strategies. As you know, we’ve been shortlisted with Vancouver for the $50 million Smart City Challenge by the federal government. Those things wouldn’t be possible if we hadn’t taken some bold steps.
“This is the kind of work I’ve been asked to do, and the kind of work I find very rewarding and challenging at the same time. It comes with expenses and I don’t apologize for those,” Hayne added, noting he keeps costs like meal and hotel bills down wherever possible.
Next to Hayne, the highest spender was Mayor Hepner with $21,697 (up from about $11,100 the year prior).
Councillor Vera LeFranc expensed roughly $12,975, followed by Councillor Barbara Steele with $12,345.
Councillor Mike Starchuk expensed approximately $12,140 last year, followed by Councillor Dave Woods ($10,984) and Councillor Judy Villeneuve ($8,766).
The lowest spenders when it came to expenses were councillors Tom Gill ($2,973) and Mary Martin ($2,957).
Altogether, roughly $109,000 (up from more than $50,000 the year prior) was reported to Surrey City Council in other taxable benefits in 2017, including the mayor’s car allowance.