Much like a chastised child offering an apology under the glare of the school principal, our Lower Mainland mayors offered up their getaway payday before their outraged constituencies on Friday.
Our Metro Vancouver board members had quietly agreed on a 15 per cent salary increase and a retroactive retirement allowance in March. After being caught with their fingertips amidst chocolate chips, they voted to undo the payout.
We congratulate our mayors for doing the right thing. And we especially congratulate District of North Van Mayor Richard Walton and acting West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth for not needing to do the wrong thing before doing the right one.
However, the fact that a majority of mayors could vote their outgoing colleagues a lump sum of approximately half a million dollars underlies the inherent problem of allowing politicians to determine their pay.
It behooves us to be honest about the work our mayors and councillors do. With a relative pittance of government-collected tax, they’re charged with expanding rental housing without disrupting single-family neighbourhoods while keeping taxes low, building new rec centres, and tending to the blind corners, decaying trees, and cigarette butts in the street.
At the very least, our municipal governments should only vote on future pay raises at the end of their own terms. Better still would be for the province to establish an iron-clad framework. Because allowing municipal politicians to determine their own pay is akin to inviting a fox into a henhouse and offering him a menu.
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