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Municipal brass see pay balloon

MANAGERS who head up the North Shore's civil service are earning more money than ever before - with top brass earning more than $200,000 a year.

MANAGERS who head up the North Shore's civil service are earning more money than ever before - with top brass earning more than $200,000 a year.

While the number of municipal employees earning six figures has actually dropped - to 156 last year compared to 183 in 2009 - those at the very top are taking home bigger paycheques than ever.

The biggest earner among local government employees last year was the District of North Vancouver's chief administrative officer David Stuart, who earned $289,000, according to figures released recently by the municipalities. That's over $100,000 more than Stuart was earning six years ago, when he was chief administrative officer for West Vancouver, earning $188,000. It's also 47 per cent more than the $197,000 former District of North Vancouver manager James Ridge was earning at the district for the same job in 2006.

Ken Tollstam, city manager at the City of North Vancouver, has also seen a substantial boost in his earnings. Last year Tollstam earned $269,000 as chief administrative officer - up almost 50 per cent from the $180,000 he was earning in 2006.

Grant McRadu, chief administrative officer for the District of West Vancouver, earned $224,000 last year - a salary 20 per cent higher than that position paid six years ago.

Wages for other senior managers at local government often clock in between $150,000 and $200,000.

Dermod Travis, executive director of the government watchdog group Integrity B.C., says ballooning salaries for local government managers have become the norm. Many municipal managers now make more than top-level provincial and federal staffers, he said.

Travis said the salaries set an unhealthy tone for local government. "When it comes to controlling spending, it starts at the top," he said.

Overall, local governments on the North Shore spent $132 million on direct municipal salaries last year - up from the $130 million they spent in 2010. That doesn't include money paid to employees who work for agencies supported by local taxpayers - like libraries and recreation centres. If those were included, the total would be about $167 million.

The sum also doesn't include approximately $20 million paid by the city and district of North Vancouver to the RCMP. Under the Financial Information Act, local governments must publish salary information for all employees earning over $75,000 by June 30 each year. Police salaries are exempt from the reporting requirements.

In the District of North Vancouver, taxpayers forked out about $65 million on salaries last year, including direct pay to municipal employees of about $43 million.

Sixty-two people at the district made more than $100,000 last year. In addition to Stuart, top earners included deputy fire chief Steven Feenstra, who earned $235,000 and Gavin Joyce, director of corporate services, who earned $192,000.

Over in West Vancouver, local taxpayers forked over about $57.5 million on salaries, including $9.4 million for police and about $13 million on firefighters. Fifty-six people made more than $100,000. In addition to McRadu, top earners included deputy CAO Brent Leigh, who earned $175,000 and Fire Chief James Cook, who earned $164,000.

At the City of North Vancouver, $31 million went directly to municipal salaries. That figure climbed to about $45 million with other taxpayer-funded agencies.Thirty-eight people at the city earned over $100,000 in 2011. Besides Tollstam, top earners included Director of Corporate Services Francis Caouette, who made $183,000 and Deputy Fire Chief Dave Burgess, who made $178,000.

Among North Shore politicians, District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton earned the most, taking home $94,000 for his mayoral duties, plus $33,000 for his duties as vice-chair of the board of directors for Metro Vancouver. City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto earned $93,000 as mayor, plus $27,000 as a member of Metro's board of directors. Former West Vancouver mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones earned $65,500, plus $9,000 as a Metro board member.

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