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Report reveals top earners among North Shore municipal employees

Salary increases were only a small part of overall budget increases in 2017

*This story has been amended since it was first posted.

Top salaries for North Shore municipal employees were almost at the $300,000 mark in 2017 and all three outgoing mayors were earning in the six-figure range, according to the municipalities’ financial statements.

Chief administrative officers were the top paid employees in all three municipalities in 2017 – Ken Tollstam, now retired CAO of the city of North Vancouver, received $275,174 in compensation, district of North Vancouver’s CAO Charles Stuart received $288,878 and West Vancouver CAO Nina Leemhuis, $274,413.

While the CAOs’ salaries were fairly similar, the remuneration of the three mayors varied widely – West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith received $99,006, North Vancouver district Mayor Richard Walton, $114,856 and North Vancouver city Mayor Darrell Mussatto, $148,579.

The Statement of Financial Information, which each municipality must publish annually, shows the salaries of employees earning more than $75,000 as well as the salaries of elected officials.

West Vancouver resident David Marley, who has advocated in the past for fiscal restraint, would rather see a reduction in employees at the municipal level rather than salary increases with money funneled into fixing failing infrastructure.

With the census showing that the population of West Vancouver has decreased – by 221 residents from 2011 to 2016 – and inflation has been low, “there’s no justification for the rate of increase,” Marley said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently put out a report showing overall in B.C., municipal operational spending (not including capital expenditures and adjusted for inflation) went up by 43 per cent between 2006 and 2016 while the population of the province grew by 12 per cent.

Marley challenged the incoming council to hold the line on spending.

“The question is will the new council do anything about it,” Marley said. “Unless the public really starts to make a lot of noise about it, probably not.”

In West Vancouver employees earning more than $75,000 included senior staff, library staff, fire fighters and several bus drivers and tradespeople. There were 149 employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2017.

West Vancouver’s director of corporate services, Mark Chan, earned $200,627, while the director of parks, culture and community services Anne Mooi had a salary of $198,393. Raymond Fung, director of engineering and transportation, earned $195,380.

In the city of North Vancouver, 111 employees earned more than $100,000 – at the top end were deputy director Gary Penway who earned $250,473 and fire chief Dan Pistilli who earned $208,269 in 2017.

In the district of North Vancouver, top earners included Gavin Joyce, general manager of engineering, parks and facilities, whose remuneration was $256,032 in 2017; Dan Milburn, general manager of planning, properties and permits, whose remuneration was $212,747; general manager of corporate services Charlene Grant with a remuneration of $211,455; and fire chief Victor Penman at $202,473. In total, 191 employees earned more than $100,000.

At the North Vancouver school district, superintendent Mark Pearmain earned the most in 2017, at $204,956; 97 employees earned more than $100,000 in the school district.

Mayors’ salaries include both local and Metro Vancouver compensation.

Mussatto’s remuneration included his municipal base of $118,877 and his Metro Vancouver salary of $29,702 (he also had municipal expenses list at $10,541 and Metro Vancouver expenses at $3,617). North Vancouver city councillors, in the meantime, earned about $39,085 as well as taxable benefits and expenses.

Walton received $12,035 for his Metro Vancouver duties on top of his base salary as mayor of $102,821 (expenses for municipal duties came in at $13,102 and Metro Vancouver expenses at $85). District of North Vancouver councillors earned about $43,000 in 2017.

Smith’s municipal compensation was $87,350, and his Metro Vancouver salary was $11,656 (his municipal expenses were $920 and his Metro Vancouver expenses were $120).

West Vancouver councillors’ remuneration ranged from about $38,500 to $40,000.

In contrast, North Vancouver school board chair Christie Sacre’s remuneration was $28,056 and she had $1,067 in expenses in 2017, and North Vancouver trustees received about $24,000. In West Vancouver, trustees earned around $20,000 and the board chair, $22,749. Expenses varied from $710 to $3,667.

Editor's note: This story has been amended to clarify and distinguish between salaries, remuneration (salary plus various other payouts and benefits) and expenses.

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