EDITORIAL: Some pockets are really full

CRD Board pay hike could cost taxpayers over $400,000 a year

Well kids, if you want to make some real money consider going into politics through local government.

On Sept. 9, the Capital Regional District Board will consider a report that recommends they give themselves a raise. Directors, of which there are 22 plus the chair and vice-chair, would see their stipends rise from $8,940 to $17,000. The board chair Nils Jensen would see his pay go from $29,400  to $42,000. Total those up and you are looking at a yearly cost to the taxpayer upwards of $416,000. That’s just for the CRD Board. Then when you factor in the stipend they each receive for serving on their various councils/regional districts and you can see this makes for a well-paid gig. They meet once a month and sit on committees which meet once a month or so. As an example, the councillors in Victoria make $40,000 each and in smaller communities the pay is $10,000 and up. Then there are the mayors’ salaries. It’s certainly seems worth it to “serve” your community and then serve yourself up a little extra cash.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

For one, since when is public and community service a job? Yes, we all know they have plenty of meetings and sit on numerous committees and boards. But isn’t that what they signed up for when they went into politics. When a consultant says they need to “keep up” with the rest of the province, that doesn’t quite wash. It is taxpayers’ money that they are digging into. It just seems that once they get into office, many of them have no problem voting themselves a raise. They talk about cost-cutting measures and mindful spending but that never seems to come up when their pay is on the agenda. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do that, hire a consultant to tell us we’re not making enough money for the work we do. Most of those (taxpayers) who pay the salaries and honorariums of the elected are hard pressed to find any extra cash in their pay packets.

When anyone signs up to serve the public, then they should be considering the public rather than themselves. The rising costs of local government is astounding and it is absurd that there is so much double-dipping going on.  When we see what some of the senators in Ottawa gave themselves it’s not so hard to see where that attitude of entitlement comes from.

The elected feel they should get paid for all of the hours they spend sitting in meetings, but what about the average volunteer who does what they do because they believe in their community. They also do important work and don’t get a dime.

If the CRD Board wants to hike their pay they will, but they have to realize the public will remember.

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