The number of City of Victoria employees with salaries of at least $75,000 has risen to 212, up from 200 the year before.
High-earning municipal and fire department employee salaries are published every June in the Public Bodies Report.
City manager Gail Stephens, who arrived midway through 2009, topped the list, earning $219,384 in 2010. The salary is roughly in line with other cities of similar sizes: Nanaimo pays its city manager $214,544; Red Deer pays $200,893.
Other top earning employees include general manager of operations Peter Sparanese ($198,250), fire chief Doug Angrove ($161,192), planning director Deborah Day ($163,549), finance director Brenda Warner ($157,307), and Victoria Conference Centre general manager Jocelyn Jenkyns ($157,012).
The spokesperson for the city, Katie Josephson, also joined the ranks of top earners, as she was promoted from manager of corporate communications to director of communications. The promotion came with a $27,000 raise, bringing her salary to $142,273.
As for city council, Mayor Dean Fortin earned $97,932 in 2010 and councillors earned $39,173 per year.
Coun. John Luton earned the distinction of accruing the highest expenses.
“I’m the new guy, I’ve got more to learn,” said the first-term councillor.
Councillor expenses ranged from $2,850 to $9,020, excluding Sonya Chandler who left midway through 2010 and Marianne Alto who replaced her in November.
Luton’s expense account brought him to three conferences including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
“It’s worth a lot to the city be working those networks … (to learn) where they are getting money to help with expensive projects and how they’re campaigning to get it,” he said. “You can send emails, but it’s better to meet face to face.”
As a capital city, Victoria is underrepresented at these events, he argued.
At present, there is no cap, suggested or mandatory, for councillor expenses.
It’s something Mayor Fortin would like to change.
“It’s just something I’ve been musing on,” he said, qualifying there’s no change being formally considered.
He suggests a maximum spending limit, leaving councillors free to prioritize their expenditures rather than requiring council to approve each conference request on a case-by-case basis.
“This is the amount of money you got, use it wisely and at the end of the year … you are responsible for accounting for that,” he explained of the alternate approach.
Fortin said he has no amount in mind.