I am pleased to be a subscriber of the Delta Optimist because it brings to our attention issues that need to be of interest to Delta residents, such as the service benefit policy justified by a study by the past administrator and approved by our prior council.
Each councillor knows that the tenure on being mayor or councillor has a tenure of four years. However that council approved a service benefit to enumerate themselves for their entire service on council. This is in addition to their remuneration for their position, car allowance, and additional meeting payment for special meetings.
When it was passed, the payment was justified on the basis of seven councils in B.C. who pay some sort of departure payment to council members on departure. I presume it was intended to allow the councillor to rearrange their personal finances when they lose their position and income due to loss of their position in an election. However, it appears to have been structured more as a bonus or retroactive salary increase.
Ian Paton was reported to have received $37,235 even though he resigned because he had a new position as an MLA. Sylvia Bishop was reported to receive $46,627 after she decided not to run as a councillor but to run as mayor. Lois Jackson was reported to receive $124,098 in an end of service benefit, but continues to have remuneration for service and I presume a car allowance as a councillor. Bruce McDonald continued on as a councillor but was reported to have received $47,551 in end of service benefit in spite of continuing in the same position.
It appears that Delta had expended the intent of “end of service” or "severance packages” initially justified when an employee was terminated unexpectedly but without cause by an employer, such as eliminating their position downsizing. As many of us recall, a Metro Vancouver committee also voted themselves a severance benefit for committee members that they reminded in the next meeting due to concerns expressed by taxpayers. While our new council did remind this employment benefit in the future, the current council did approve payment for the new employee benefit that most of them voted for themselves in the last council.
While I believe the approval of the payment was not appropriate as most of the councillors who voted to approve the payment were beneficiaries of the benefit, some of the councillors and mayor continue on in council positions, and at least two decided not to run again, it is unlikely the one-time benefit payment will be reminded. However, it does appear that there are surplus funds in this year’s budget, and would expect next year’s budget will recognize the surplus add decrease the tax load or rate payers.