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Saanich CAO tops salary list, but council paid lowest per capita among core municipalities

Financial reports show top municipal earners from Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt
Out of Victoria and its three neighbouring municipalities, Oak Bay municipal workers are the best paid on a per capita basis. (Black Press file)

Among Greater Victoria’s four core municipalities, Oak Bay municipal workers are the best paid on a per-capita basis.

That information emerged from the 2020 Statements of Financial Information reports released recently.

The reports show that employee salaries and wages make up the largest chunk of municipal expenses in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay. Esquimalt’s report didn’t include its expenses in full.

The top municipal earner from the four communities was Saanich’s chief administrative officer, Paul Thorkelsson, at $288,176 plus $3,963 in expenses.

Victoria’s top-paid worker was city manager Jocelyn Jenkyns, who pulled in $247,029, plus $50,455 in taxable benefits and payouts and $4,890 in expenses. Just behind Jenkyns among the city’s highest-paid employees were city solicitor, Tom Zworski, and deputy city manager Susanne Thompson, who made $234,041 and $229,601, respectively, without taxable benefits, payouts and expenses.

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Esquimalt’s lone worker to top $200,000 was CAO Laurie Hurst, at $211,580 plus $1,559 in expenses. Oak Bay’s biggest earner was CAO Lou Varela, who was paid $195,783, with $1,940 in expenses.

Saanich gave the highest overall compensation to their elected officials, but pays them the lowest per capita. On the flip side, Esquimalt’s total pay to its mayor and council are the highest per capita of the four municipalities.

Among councils listing a mayor and eight councillors, Saanich salaries (excluding expenses from meetings, courses and conferences) totalled $511,775, while Victoria came in at $454,800 (excluding taxable benefits and expenses). The mayor and six councillors in Esquimalt made $213,309 (excluding expenses), while those at Oak Bay totalled $122,042 (excluding expenses).

Saanich’s Fred Haynes was the highest compensated mayor of the four communities ($123,632), but is the lowest paid per capita. Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins makes the most per capita of the four with a salary of $59,709. By comparison, Victoria’s Lisa Helps came in at $119,685 (plus $316 in taxable benefits and $2,455 claimed in expenses) and Oak Bay’s Kevin Murdoch $34,415 ($579 expenses).

Of the four communities, Oak Bay is the only one where more money went to municipal workers who make $75,000 or less than to those above that level in 2020. Oak Bay paid its 578 employees who earned $75,000 and under a total of $9,693,694, while the higher pay bracket group (59 employees), earned $6,700,920.

Oak Bay paid a total of the $16,394,614 to its 614 municipal employees in 2020. Based on 2016 census population figures, that makes Oak Bay’s workers the best paid per capita of the four local municipalities.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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