The overtime bill for the British Columbia Legislature’s in-house security ballooned by 244% since 2014.
Overtime pay for the 33-member Legislative Assembly Protective Services (LAPS) was almost $327,000 in 2017-2018, but grew to more than $557,000 in the year-ended March 31, 2019, according to the LAPS Expense Analysis report.
The report, obtained by theBreaker.news, said overtime cost taxpayers $162,000 in 2013-2014.
The cost increases happened under Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz and his recently retired substitute, Randy Ennis. Lenz oversaw LAPS until last Nov. 20 when he was immediately suspended with pay along with Clerk Craig James. The RCMP is investigating both Lenz and James for alleged corruption, but neither has been charged.
Lenz remains on paid leave, but James retired in disgrace in May after he was found in misconduct. Ennis retired at the end of the spring Legislative session in May. Doug LePard, the former Vancouver Police deputy chief and Metro Vancouver Transit Police chief, is conducting an investigation under the Police Act.
The last fiscal year was the first time that LAPS officers’ salary and benefits broke the $4 million mark and the total cost of LAPS hit $5 million. The June report said total salaries and benefits for the new fiscal year already hit $1.44 million, including $180,635 overtime pay. Eighteen constables at the Legislature were listed in the report of salary payments over $75,000.
By comparison, the Oak Bay Police Department spent $4.88 million last year, including $167,482 on overtime. Oak Bay has 23 officers covering 10.5 square kilometres and serving 18,000 population. The Legislative Precinct is just 5.05 hectares with no full-time residents.
The Legislature website describes the duties of LAPS as ensuring safety and security for MLAs, staff and the public in the precinct. “Constituency office security, business continuity planning, parking, card-lock access, and emergency first aid services also fall under the purview of LAPS.”
The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board budgeted $53.9 million to run its 243-constable force in 2018 for 103,000 residents. The overtime bill was $1.96 million.
Meanwhile, the all-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee met July 30 for almost 48 minutes. The meeting was held almost entirely behind closed doors because of a discussion about an unspecified personnel matter.
Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan chaired the meeting, because Speaker Darryl Plecas was on vacation. Plecas’s chief of staff, Alan Mullen, is completing a tour of various provincial and state legislatures. Mullen is compiling a report aimed at improving B.C. Legislature security policies and procedures.
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