Pay for politicians serving on the Fraser Valley Regional District has now risen 40 per cent over two years, now that a two-step increase approved in 2014 has taken full effect.
Total remuneration for all 33 FVRD board members was $368,464 in the 2016/17 fiscal year. That’s up from $323,638 last year and $264,003 the year before. The increase is mainly due to raises given to municipal directors representing Abbotsford, Chilliwack and other municipalities, along with a raise for the vice-chair position, which is held by Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross. The board also includes eight electoral area directors, who received smaller raises but have higher base rates of pay as the only elected politicians representing their communities.
The increase followed a staff report that said municipal members were compensated lower than those serving on other regional districts. Members suggested pay scales should reflect the FVRD’s status as the province’s third largest regional district. The ensuing bylaw aimed to peg directors’ pay to averages in other regional districts. The increase was phased in over two years and saw municipal directors’ base pay rise from $6,613 in 2014 to $9,085 in 2015 and $11,557 last year.
Abbotsford’s directors are Ross, Mayor Henry Braun and Couns. Dave Loewen, Moe Gill, Ross Siemens and Kelly Chahal. The increase, though, was passed by the board prior to the last election. Abbotsford’s directors at the time were Ross, Loewen Gill, and then-Mayor Bruce Banman and then-Couns. John Smith and Bill MacGregor.
Ross said last year that directors do more than attend monthly meetings, with some sitting on additional committees and all undertaking research and learning about issues.
An analysis by The News last year showed that among the eight largest regional districts, the FVRD spent the largest share of its budget on politicians. In 2016/17, politicians expenses and remuneration accounted for 2.3 per cent of the FVRD’s $19.5 million in expenditures.