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HomeNewsExclusive: Vancouver city hall’s six-figure salary club swelled by 400 new members last year

Exclusive: Vancouver city hall’s six-figure salary club swelled by 400 new members last year


Bob Mackin

Salaries for civic employees cost Vancouver taxpayers almost half-a-billion dollars last year, a jump of $130 million since 2009.  

That is according to Vancouver city hall’s 2017 statement of financial information, which goes to city council this week. 

In 2009, the first full year of Gregor Robertson’s mayoralty and Vision Vancouver’s majority, the cost of labour was $367.9 million. If adjusted for inflation, that would be $423.6 million, which is almost $75 million less than the actual 2017 figure of $498.45 million. 

From 2013 to 2017, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents unionized civic staff, donated $247,100 to Vision Vancouver. The NDP provincial government banned union and corporate donations to candidates and parties last fall. 

City manager Sadhu Johnston has more than 337,000 reasons to smile (UBC)

In the same period, expense claims grew from nearly $612,000 to $1.51 million.  

Nineteen senior bureaucrats were paid more than $200,000 last year, up from 16 in 2016. 

Topping the list was city manager Sadhu Johnston at $337,914, plus $2,403 in expenses. Johnston’s salary increased from $328,583.08 in 2016. His predecessor, Penny Ballem, was paid $334,617 in 2014, her final full-year of employment, according to CityHallWatch. She was fired in September 2015. 

Real estate general manager Bill Aujla ($296,039), city solicitor Francie Connell ($292,695), chief financial officer Patrice Impey ($290,790), and city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny ($286,473) rounded-out the top five of 2017. 

Park board general manager Malcolm Bromley was the highest-paid at city hall’s Stanley Park subsidiary, at $284,563. 

The number of city white collar and blue collar workers in the $100,000-plus club reached 1,309 — up from 914 in 2016. 

Another 253 were paid between $95,019 and $99,986, five more than the 248 paid above $95,000 and under $100,000 in 2016. 

In the expenses column, streets director Taryn Scollard led with $22,149 in claims, up by more than $10,000 from 2016. She was followed by cultural services managing director Branislav Henselmann ($17,808) and assistant emergency management chief Scott Morrison ($13,974). 

In 2016, Robertson’s then-chief of staff, Mike Magee, was the biggest spender at $20,265.56. 

Forty-six bureaucrats charged $5,000 or more in expense claims, com pared with 22 in 2016. Planning general manager Gil Kelley ($10,812) and Impey ($9,458) were the highest claimers among senior management. 

Nobody at city hall’s 40-person communications department was able to answer questions from theBreaker on April 15.

On April 16, spokeswoman Ellie Lambert said in an email to theBreaker that Scollard represents the city on “a number of councils that require her to travel nationally to attend meetings.” Lambert did not name the councils. She said the city is also partially reimbursing Scollard for her MBA studies, but did not name the institution offering the degree.

As for the cost of salaries, Lambert said variables include the number of employed staff, amount of straight time and premium pay, and the outcomes of collective bargaining agreements.

“In particular, those agreements relating to public safety (some of which were determined through arbitration) have exceeded inflation over most of the time period in question,” she said, “while inflation itself has been relatively low over the same time frame.”


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