City's high earners top B.C.

The City of Richmond had 13 employees compensated more than $200,000, according to the Vancouver Sun's public sector salaries database.

The only local government agency in B.C. with more $200,000-plus remunerations was TransLink, which tipped the scales with 14.  

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These total compensations included other payments beyond base salaries, such as vacation payouts and bonuses.

Richmond’s 13, $200,00-plus employees are two more than Surrey, a city 2.5 times more populous than Richmond and one more than Vancouver, a city three times more populous, with an operating budget five times greater. Burnaby — a city with a population of roughly 34,000 more people and an operating budget of $424 million compared to Richmond's $277 million budget — has just four employees earning over $200,000.

Over the last seven years Burnaby has had 10 instances where an employee was fully compensated beyond $200,000 while Richmond has had 53 instances.

Richmond’s deputy chief administrative officer, Joe Erceg, took home $345,600 while CAO George Duncan banked $308,300, $31,000 less than his Vancouver counterpart Penny Ballem.

Andrew Nazareth, the city’s general manager of finance and corporate services, and Robert Gonzalez, the city’s general manager of engineering and public works, nearly tipped the $300,000 mark with payouts of $298,000 and $294,600, respectively.

Two high-paid positions involve the Richmond Olympic Oval. Its chief operating officer, John Mills, earned $229,500, while Shana Turner, the Oval’s director of finances and corporate services, was paid $224,000 (*reported erroneously in print as $244,000). 

According to the Oval’s 2014 budget, the facility generates about $7.5 million in revenue along with a $2.2 million grant and $3.2 million subsidy from the City of Richmond. 

Phyllis Carlyle received $256,200 as Richmond’s general manager of law and community safety, while 2014 city council election hopeful Dave Semple raked in $244,900 as general manager of parks.

City spokesperson Ted Townsend noted it's difficult to compare municipality pay structures based on the database.

"The benefits and other payments portion of compensation can fluctuate significantly from year to year due to such things as staff members electing to take a buyout for accumulated vacation and other onetime payments, so it is not an accurate portrayal of actual staff pay rates, particularly when taking a one-year snapshot," he said.

For instance, Erceg's base salary for 2013 was $218,400, which includes a double role as deputy CAO and general manager.

Townsend added:

"Not all municipalities report or structure compensation in the same way. Some way have lower salaries, for example, but supplement those through bonus programs. Also, municipalities all have varying management structures that can impact on specific salary levels. For example, one municipality may have a smaller senior management team and/or lesser salaries, but have a larger more costly middle management  level (eg director-level staff). As well ,the scope of responsibilities for individual managers of comparable title/rank can vary widely from one municipality to the next."

He said using $200,000 as a benchmark of comparison was "arbitrary."

To view base salaries for city employees, click here.

@WestcoastWood

gwood@richmond-news.com

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