Saanich municipal and fire hall. The municipality paid $99 million in wages and benefits for 2016. File photo

Saanich municipal and fire hall. The municipality paid $99 million in wages and benefits for 2016. File photo

CAO’s $249,828 salary tops District of Saanich’s top earners in 2016

Municipality paid $99 million in wages and benefits for 2016

A District of Saanich report shows a half-dozen municipal staff members have salaries of more than $150,000 as part of the 2016 budget that paid $99 million in employee salaries, wages and benefits.

The $99 million also includes the grouped wages, salaries and benefits for police, and individual wages for fire and emergency services.

Among the outstanding wages is the ongoing payout of $124,019 to former chief administrative officer Paul Murray, who was fired shortly after the 2014 municipal election.

CAO Paul Thorkelsson, Murray’s replacement, topped the district ledger, making $249,828 in salary last year plus $7,517 in expenses.

Locally, that figure compares to Bob Lapham, CAO of the Capital Regional District, who pulled in $252,041 plus $9,146 (total of $261,186), and City of Victoria city manager Jason Johnson, who earned $223,459 plus $51,518 in taxable benefits and $8,193 in expenses, a total of $283,170.

Saanich Police don’t make their wages public but did release Police Chief Bob Downie’s 2016 salary of $218,300, upon request. It stands as the second highest in Saanich, with Fire Chief Michael Burgess drawing $189,546, the third highest.

Looking at some comparably sized municipalities in B.C., Thorkelsson’s wage comes in lower than Kelowna’s city manager Ronald Mattiussi at $268,301 (Kelowna population is estimated at about 127,000 to Saanich’s 114,000). In the Township of Langley (population 117,000) and Coquitlam (population 139,000) the city managers pull in $294,454 and $295,306 respectively. Langley had two more big-earners that far exceeded equal Saanich positions, the director of corporate services at $241,722 and the general manager of engineering and community development at $264,509.

Kelowna’s fire chief earned $151,000 last year while its police chief salary is not-posted, a new standard in B.C. municipal reports. Coquitlam’s fire chief earned $187,981 and Langley’s $187,121. Victoria’s fire chief earned $178,480 plus more than $28,000 in taxable benefits and expenses.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps drew $102,303 to Mayor Richard Atwell’s $99,362, while Langley’s mayor made $126,440 (taxable) with $15,478 in expenses, and Coquitlam’s $132,258 plus $19,869 in expenses. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran earned $91,578 ($61,148 taxable and $30,430 non-taxable) plus $12,000 in expenses last year, not far off of Saanich’s rate.

Saanich’s top earners in 2016 are (including fire and police chiefs only): Paul Thorkelsson, CAO, $249,828; Bob Downie, Saanich Police Chief, $218,300; Michael Burgess, Fire Chief, $189,546; Carolyn MacPhee, Director of Legislative Services, $183,687; Valla Tinney, Director of Finance, $181,587; Laura Ciarniello, Director of Corporate Services, $181,255; Sharon Hvozdanski, Director of Planning, $180,355; Harley Machielse, Director of Engineering, $172,309; David Sparanese, Manager of Public Works, $139,562; Kelli-Ann Armstrong, Senior Manager of Recreation Services, $136,933; Jarret Matanowitsch, Manager of Current Planning, $135,207; Cameron Scott, Manager of Community Planning, $134,470; Paul Arslan, Senior Manager, Financial Services, $134,155; Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services, $134,155; Donna Dupas, Legislative Manager, Municipal Clerk, $133,987; Graham Barbour, Manager of Inspection Services, $133,964; and Joanne MacDonald, Manager, Human Resources $133,957.

In 2016 Mayor Richard Atwell received $66,243 plus $33,120 expenses (total, $99,363), while councillors earned $26,328 plus $13,164 tax exempt (total, $39,492).

Note that mayor and council approved an increase to their wages for 2017. Atwell will receive $101,105.66, up from $99,362.91 while each of the seven councillors will receive $40,617.55, up from $39.362.91. Atwell also earned $21,821 in salary and expenses as a CRD director in 2016. The highest earning Saanich councillor at CRD was Coun. Colin Plant with $25,493 in CRD salary and allowances.

In total, Saanich’s salaries, wages and benefits for 2016 were: General government: $12,113,714; Protective services, police and fire and emergency preparedness: $46,677,193; Engineering and public works: $12,857,589; Planning and development: $2,393,851; Parks and recreation: $21,021,558; and Water and sewer: $4,393,975.

The top-earner for the Greater Victoria School District (year ended June 30, 2016) was treasurer Debra Laser at $215,680 while Superintendent Piet Langstraat earned $161,377.