Editorial — The $100,000 club

Langley City has 22 employees who received $100,000 or more in salary and expenses in 2012.

If there were just three more Langley City employees making $100,000 or more per year, there would be a perfect ratio — one City $100,000-plus earner for every 1,000 people.

It seems almost unbelievable that 22 employees of the City collected  $100,000 or more in 2012, in a community as small as Langley City. It speaks volumes to the rising cost of municipal government; the reason why property taxes are so high; and the indifference of municipal politicians to their labour costs.

The chief administrator, Francis Cheung, made $203,000 last year. While he bears ultimate responsibility for the City’s actions, and is an excellent administrator, does the job merit that kind of pay? Would similar private-sector levels of responsibility merit such a wage?

But perhaps even more problematic are the wages paid to mid-level managers and, in some cases, line employees.

There are 41 employees of the City who made $75,000 or more in 2012. This figure includes expenses.

What work in the City is so important that it requires so many employees to collect wages on that scale, which is considerably higher than wages paid to many people in the private sector?

The director of development services, Gerald Minchuk, who has important responsibilities but actually supervises a very small number of staff, received $145,801 in 2012. Kim Hilton, manager of recreation and culture, who has many more staff members to oversee, was paid $118,479.

The real issue is that civic governments have not been able to say no to their unions, who have received steady pay increases for many years in a row. Managers’ salary increases are tied to those given to unionized employees, so everyone’s wages keep rising.

The unfortunate part of this practice is that taxpayers’ wages don’t necessarily rise on the same scale. Many have had minimal wage increases since 2008, and many of  those on fixed incomes have seen a decline in their incomes, as investment income has declined for many, due to low interest rates.

City council has shown no more ability to get wage increases under control than other civic governments in B.C. Taxes keep rising, civic wages keep rising and taxpayers have their pockets picked a little more each year.

Langley Times