The City of Burnaby paid more than $170 million to its nearly 4,000 employees last year.
The municipality’s 2018 statement of financial information shows it paid a total of $171,956,440, including benefits, to 3,957 people. That averages out to $43,456 – but many workers took home much more than that.
The city is required by law to publicly disclose the names and remuneration of staff members who make more than $75,000 a year. One in five city employees – 811 of 3,957 people – landed on the so-called “sunshine list.”
Topping the list was city manager Lambert Chu, who cost the city $293,252 (all staff pay totals include benefits). He was followed by engineering director Leon Gous ($211,095), planning and building director Lou Pelletier ($207,813), parks director Dave Ellenwood ($205,282) and public safety director Dave Critchley ($205,221).
The city manager and four top-earning directors were the only five employees who made more than $200,000 in 2018. Thirty-seven people were paid between $150,000 and $199,999, while 345 made between $100,000 and $149,999. More than half of the employees on the sunshine list – 421 of 811 – made between $75,000 and $99,999.
In March, Burnaby council considered submitting a resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities that would have asked the province to raise the reporting threshold for sunshine lists. A staff report argued that inflation had risen significantly since the bar was set at $75,000 in 2002, placing “an undue reporting burden on local governments.”
But councillors voted not to submit the proposal, with some arguing the list keeps cities transparent and responsible.
The financial report also discloses money shelled out to local politicians. Former Mayor Derek Corrigan, who officially left office Nov. 5, 2018, was paid $117,808, plus $2,669 in local expenses, $16,450 in benefits, a $13,472 transportation allowance and $11,884 for travel and conferences.
Mayor Mike Hurley made $21,744 in the final two months of 2018, after taking over from Corrigan.
All seven councillors who served for the entirety of 2018 – Pietro Calendino, Sav Dhaliwal, Dan Johnston, Colleen Jordan, Paul McDonell, Nick Volkow and James Wang – made between $63,322 and $63,846. Coun. Joe Keithley made $10,472 in 2018 after being sworn in Nov. 5. Calendino charged the most local expenses to the city ($2,400), while Dhaliwal’s racked up the biggest travel bill ($12,153).
Council voted unanimously in May to give themselves pay raises backdated to the beginning of 2019. The $37,075 raise for the mayor and $8,900 for each councillor will cost the city approximately $110,00 annually, but the increases won’t mean the politicians will take home more money.
The changes are meant to offset the elimination of a tax break by the federal government that exempted one-third of local politicians’ gross pay from income taxes.