TransLink directors don’t get it

Surrey Leader

Editorial

By Frank Bucholtz

Metro directors see no problem with their big pay hike” reads the headline on a story appearing on Black Press Lower Mainland newspaper websites – a story which also appeared in many of those newspapers.

It seems Metro Vancouver directors have no problem taking an additional 25 per cent this year. After all, it’s our money, and they see themselves as deserving of every penny they get.

They may not have a problem with their pay hikes, but many taxpayers do. We are being asked to pay more in property taxes each year – some of which goes to service the bloated Metro political structure.

We are paying significantly more for TransLink each year, even though it does not serve the South Fraser area well. Our gas taxes are going up, and those of us who do use transit will soon be shelling out even more.

The new Port Mann Bridge will be a toll bridge, so most commuters from Surrey will pay a toll each way to and from work.

And to top it all off, the provincial government is bringing in the HST on July 1, 2010, adding seven per cent to many services that have not been taxed before.

Enough is enough. We need a full-fledged tax revolt. We need to say “stop” to these never-satisfied hands reaching into our wallets and purses.

What is particularly insidious about the Metro Vancouver pay hike is that it isn’t even subject to debate or a vote. The pay rate to attend a meeting has shot up from $253 to $316 (it’s double that if the meeting lasts for more than four hours), simply based on the median salary for all mayors in the region.

Most Metro Vancouver committee members are not mayors and simply spend two, three or four hours at a meeting. Yes, they must prepare for it ahead of time and read reports, but a stipend of $50 per hour for a meeting takes that into account. At $316 for a meeting of less than four hours, these people are pulling in close to $100 per hour.

Keep in mind that they also collect pay for their local council duties, and car allowances for their travel. They also go to a lot of meetings at taxpayers’ expense, such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities and Federation of Canadian Municipalities. One Vancouver councillor even flies all over the world to climate change meetings at taxpayers’ expense.

In 2010, Metro Vancouver taxpayers will pay $1.8 million for board and committee remuneration. That is up $417,000 from this year.

That’s far too big an increase. There should be no increase at all. Politicians have to start showing some restraint and some leadership.

And if they can’t, it’s time that more of us get out and vote. Those who think a 25-per-cent raise in one year is just fine need to be defeated at the polls.

One politician does get it. Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who also is the Metro Vancouver chair, is concerned about the soaring pay for committee members. She asked the finance committee to review the raises. Instead, the committee came back suggesting an increase in pay for one director, who represents unincorporated areas such as Barnston Island.

Other than Jackson, it appears Metro Vancouver politicians just don’t get it.

newsroom@surreyleader.com

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One Comment on “TransLink directors don’t get it”

  1. Joan Arque Says:

    Excellent article.


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