Surrey mayor supports retirement allowance, but says process was flawed

Metro chair says new remuneration bylaw ‘missed the mark’

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says a Metro Vancouver vote that raised board members’ pay and implemented a 10.2 per cent retroactive retirement allowance could have been handled better.

“Really, that happened pretty quickly on the fly,” Hepner told Peace Arch News.

“Do I think that there could’ve been a better process for it? I do, and I’ve had that discussion with the chair.”

The comments, made Tuesday, came in the wake of criticism surrounding the board’s March 23 vote.

Later that evening, board chair Greg Moore described the new remuneration bylaw – which also raised board members’ pay by 15 per cent, effective Jan. 1, 2019 – as a mistake, and announced a plan to bring forward a reconsideration bylaw at the board’s next meeting, set for April 27.

“As local government we pride ourselves in listening to our citizens and finding solutions. Over the past week we’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback and clearly we missed the mark with respect to the new remuneration bylaw,” Moore states in a news release.

“It is a sign of good leadership to admit a mistake and change directions, this is exactly what this motion will do, it is the reason why the reconsideration process is in place.”

At least seven of the board’s 40 directors voted against the bylaw on March 23. Both Hepner and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin were among directors who supported it, with Baldwin emphasizing to PAN last week that the retirement allowance was not a pension.

“I can say this – there is NO pension,” Baldwin told PAN by email Thursday. “It is my understanding there would be a one-time payment made upon leaving the Board and public office.”

Baldwin added that the remuneration of elected officials in White Rock is “modest and in line with other municipalities in the lower mainland.”

Hepner – who said she has served on the Metro board since at least 2008 – said Tuesday that while criticism that followed the March 23 decision is “not an unwarranted criticism,” she supports having something in place that recognizes long service.

She noted that for her, the remuneration increase “means nothing to me, when I took a look at what that means, financially, for me.”

In tweets late Tuesday night, Moore referenced “mostly negative” communications he has received since March 23, and said he will be “voting to down the bylaw.”

“I have always worked hard to listen to all points of view. I believe it takes a true leader to admit they made a mistake and change their mind,” he said.

Moore’s news release notes the reconsideration motion will be voted on, recorded “and if two-thirds of the Board agree, the original remuneration bylaw will be on the floor for debate.”

 

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

Greg Moore

Vancouver city councillor and Metro Vancouver board vice-chair Raymond Louie speaks at the March 23 meeting. (Metro Vancouver)

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