The LMLGA can be a gruelling affair as five Vancouver councillors will soon find out
It's that time of the year again when City staff bury into the council package a thin two-page report on who's been naughty and who's been nice. Well, in reality it's actually a report on the expense claims and salary of each Vancouver City Councillor. Although it's pretty light on details (there is no breakdown of individual travel claims or what value taxpayers received) it does provide a good indication as to who is chalking up some serious frequent flyer points.
For starters, Vision Councillor and Budget Finance Chair Raymond Louie topped the list when it came to charging taxpayers for travel expenses. In total, the report indicates he claimed $10,554 for travel across Canada on official business. One assumes that none of this was for his new role as the chair of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) board of directors. He also earned an annual salary of just over $62,000, while his gig at the PNE was apparently pro bono.
On the other end of the spectrum is the one councillor many believe has already begun his retirement. Vision's George Chow stuck close to home in 2009 and only claimed $651 in travel expenses. However, he did manage to claim his $3,589 in transportation allowance.
Council's top earner was Mayor Gregor Robertson, who pulled in a tidy sum of $135,429. All of those trips to Copenhagen and the USA cost taxpayers $18,616 (not including his staff travel expenses) last year. Despite apparently riding his bike to meetings (at least that's what we see when the cameras are rolling), Robertson claimed $7,424 in local transportation expenses. Presumably this is for bus and cab fare as well as the electricity to charge up his electric car.
Other notable expenses include the NPA's Suzanne Anton who claimed $5,999 in "local expenses," the highest of any councillor. Anton claimed zippo when it came to her transportation allowance. At just over $68,000, Vision's Heather Deal and George Chow were both tied as the highest paid councillors in 2009. However, considering how much Vancouver's elected officials get paid, it's kind of equivalent to saying your the tallest of the seven dwarfs...at the end of the day you're still short.
A report coming to Council next week is also raising a few eyebrows amongst City staff who have just gone through a big round of budget cuts. Five councillors are seeking approval to attend yet another conference at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This time councillors Reimer, Cadman, Deal, Anton and Stevenson are dipping into city coffers to attend a Lower Mainland Government Association (LMLGA) conference. Can anyone explain to me exactly what the LMLGA does or is? Or whether any of these councillors will actually produce a report for the public after they come back from this conference outlining the value taxpayers received?
Once again the sole opposition councillor Suzanne Anton appears to have missed an opportunity to hold Vision's feet to the fire. Rather than questioning why so many councillors need to attend this conference in a time of budget restraint, Anton is actually carpooling up to Harrison with her Vision colleagues to partake in the festivities. Enough said.
- post by Daniel