Resident questions severance for former White Rock city manager

Retirement allowance for Peggy Clark was more than $250,000; amount in line with industry standards says Mayor Wayne Baldwin

A severance pay/retirement allowance of more than $250,000 received by former White Rock city manager Peggy Clark was not excessive by industry standards, according to Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

Information released in December to city resident Garry Wolgemuth, in response to an FOI request, confirmed that Clark received $252,181.41 in severance when she retired as city manager in December 2012.

The announcement of Clark’s retirement at the age of 63 came suddenly – shortly after Baldwin was elected mayor.

During his campaign, Baldwin – himself a longtime city manager of White Rock – had been openly critical of Clark’s compensation (in her last year she received $185,160, plus an additional $5,266 in expenses), calling it, and pay received by another senior staff member, “exceedingly generous.”

Contacted by Peace Arch News Tuesday, Baldwin expressed surprise that Clark’s retirement should have emerged as an issue.

“This is an HR (human-resources) matter so I can’t really comment,” he said.“Whatever we did, we did with the advice of our solicitors.”

Asked if he believed the severance given Clark was in line with industry standards, Baldwin commented “exactly.”

Wolgemuth told PAN that the issue is of interest partly because of the rapidity of Clark’s departure – and partly because, in his understanding, resignations and retirements usually do not qualify for severance payments.

“I’ve looked into a number of (departures from the city) in the past and been told that there was no severance because people had retired or resigned,” he said. “Normally, a person would announce their retirement before the election – I think she knew her days were numbered because Baldwin had made (her salary) an election issue.”

Wolgemuth noted that Clark had succeeded Baldwin as city manager in 2006.

“I think there was a bit of a grudge there.”

Clark, now a public-sector consultant in Saskatoon, Sask., and – before she worked in White Rock – former director of community services for the City of Regina, confirmed to PAN that she was aware of the FOI request and had agreed to the release of the information, although she declined to comment on the severance amount.

Tuesday, she told PAN that while receiving severance after resigning “probably isn’t” usual for a resignation, her departure was a retirement “because of my age, and because I wasn’t going to be applying for a job as a city manager anywhere else – it was at the end of my career as a city manager.”

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