Richmond's staff salaries take a hike

City of Richmond senior-level employees enjoy a comfortable lead over similar employees in other municipalities, according to a provincial report.

Factoring in the population of Metro Vancouver cities, Richmond has disproportionately more  staff earning top-end salaries. 

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The City of Richmond’s Chief Administrative Officer, George Duncan, is one of the region’s highest paid. He pulled in $313,000 in remuneration in 2012, leaving him a few bucks short of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s $317,000 base salary.

In 2008 Richmond had five employees making over $200,000 and 10 making $150,000.In 2008 Surrey — a city with more than twice as many residents as Richmond — had three employees making over $200,000 and 11 making over $150,000.

Come 2012 Richmond salaries over $200,000 ballooned to 10, the same as Surrey. Richmond also had 30 employees making $150,000 while Surrey had 25.

Burnaby, a Metro Vancouver city with a similar population and budget, had just two employees making more than $200,000 in 2012 and just 15 over $150,000.

City spokesperson Ted Townsend said remunerations reported by the province are not base salaries. Ergo such numbers can include payments for things such as time-in-lieu, vacation or retirement bonuses.

“We have to have competitive salaries in order to hire and retain people in these senior positions,” said Townsend.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie defended the apparent high payouts.

“I think we have a workforce on par or better than any other city. We want the salary levels to be competitive but people need to be compensated with what the market demands,” said Brodie.

Jordan Bateman, spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said comparing city staff to the private sector isn’t so cut and dry since those in the private sector must generate revenue whereas city staff depend on taxes.

“It is possible (to lower salaries), it just takes political will,” said Bateman.

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