Opinion

EDITORIAL: Full-time mayors

If your default position is we already spend too much money on the salaries of municipal politicians, you won't enjoy the following train of thought.

Municipalities must file what's called a Statement of Financial Information with the province by June 30 each year. Those documents include information about the salaries and expenses of both staff and politicians.

In 2013, Parksville Mayor Chris Burger was paid $33,573.73 plus $4,902.88 for expenses. Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek received $22,983 in pay, plus $11,491 in expenses. Westbroek was also reimbursed for $11,797 in expenses, which pushed his grand total to $46,271.

Make no mistake, being mayor of either community is a full-time job and from what we've witnessed, both of these mayors work full-time hours while basically being paid part-time wages.

We understand some people would not agree $37,000 or $47,000 is a part-time wage. Fair enough, but when you consider these mayors are essentially in charge of a number of staff who make more than $100,000/year, something seems out of whack. Also consider what's asked of these mayors and the heat they receive every day from members of the public and a prying, competitive media.

While we aren't privy to how their personal lives work, we do know Burger has both a young family and a business, a busy country store also known as Sasquatch Central in Meadowood. We also don't know yet if he intends to run again in November, but it would not be shocking to see him bow out to better serve his family and business, especially considering the next term is for four years.

There are at least a couple of legitimate ways to view compensation for the mayors of these communities (we don't believe there needs to be any increased compensation for councillors). One suggests the job should not be something one pursues for money, that it's basically some kind of public service position. The other suggests better candidates, ones with experience running multi-million-dollar business — essentially what these municipalities are — would come out of the woodwork if the job paid a reasonable, CEO-type salary.

We don't believe there is an appetite in Parksville Qualicum Beach to pay something like $75,000/year for full-time mayors. If that's true, we best lower our expectations in relation to both the candidates who would be attracted and the amount of work we expect these people to perform.

— Editorial by John Harding

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