A former city manager who is taking a run at White Rock politics is criticizing current council members for “exceedingly generous” compensation packages given to two senior staff.
In an email to Peace Arch News, Wayne Baldwin says financial statements show the current city manager, Peggy Clark, went from being paid $140,000 when she was hired in 2006 to receiving $194,535 in 2010 – an increase he describes as “totally beyond all reason.”
The director of engineering and municipal operations, Rob Thompson, was also “grossly overpaid,” Baldwin claims, citing statements that show Thompson received $182,883 in 2010, for 10 months’ work. According to his employment agreement, Thompson was hired on a two-year contract that expires June 29, 2012, at an hourly rate of $115.57, plus in-lieu earnings.
“That, to me, is just off the map,” Baldwin said in a phone interview. “He’s getting paid as much as the city manager for Surrey.”
Mayor Catherine Ferguson noted the city manager’s compensation is reviewed approximately every four years, and is determined through a process that has been in place for at least 14 years, which includes comparing the rate with those in nine other similar-sized cities. The recommended rate is based on the medium of the lot, and annual increases are based on rates set by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, she added.
“There’s safeguards put in place, there’s a process in place and there’s standards and benchmarks,” she said. “What’s very important to me is that we’re being very careful with the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Compensation to the director of engineering and municipal operations is determined by the city manager, Ferguson noted.
Clark declined to comment, other than to say the compensation “clearly… is in line with what other municipalities are being paid.”
“It’s fair and equitable,” she said.
Thompson could not be reached for comment.
Baldwin, who announced he is hoping to win a seat on council in the Nov. 19 election, disagrees.
He said he started looking into the compensation packages just before August. He raised his concerns publicly after receiving copies of the pair’s employment agreements through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
While Baldwin said his timing of raising the issue has nothing to do with his election efforts, “obviously, it doesn’t hurt my case.”
“I felt that it’s time to say something about it. The magnitude was so out of scale with anything I’ve encountered.”