Metro Vancouver board members voted to give themselves a retirement allowance of up to $15,000

CORRECTION: In a previous report, we stated four board directors voted no to the allowance. In fact, that number was higher, with at least six members voting no, including Coquitlam councillors Brent Asmundson and Terry O’Neill.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District Board quietly approved a one-time retirement allowance for departing board members on Friday.

And it came as an overall cost of taxpayers of just under $500,000.

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Each member of the board is receiving an allowance as a rate of their annual remuneration, which is consistent with what Metro Vancouver pays on behalf of each employee to the municipal pension plan.

“Right now that is 10.2 per cent,” said Phil Trotzuk, financial planning and operations manager at Metro Vancouver.

The allowance is retroactive to the year 2007.

The average director will receive about $15,000, but Greg Moore, who has chaired the Metro Vancouver board for six years now, will see close to $45,000.

“That tax money is now going to council members and mayors who are sitting on a secondary board, and as a retirement bonus and a retroactive pay? That’s not acceptable,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

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“Part of the attraction and retention of getting people to come to this table and to make the decisions that are important for this region is to ensure that they are appropriately compensated,”  Metro Vancouver Regional District Board vice-chair and Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie said during Friday’s meeting.

Louie ranks second on the board’s 2016 pay list behind chair Greg Moore. Those numbers are over and above their salaries as councillor and mayor.

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Until recently, a portion of this income was tax-free. But the Canada Revenue Agency recently deemed it a taxable benefit, which led to a second vote that saw members approve a one-time pay increase to compensate for the new rules.

An unusually high number of Metro Vancouver mayors, including Moore, have already said they will not seek re-election this fall.

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“I think that when politicians get to vote themselves a pay increase, it tends to make people crazy because they don’t think it’s fair,” civic affairs columnist Mike Klassen said.

“We don’t get to do that for ourselves.”

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