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Victoria leads region in salary spending

Jun 26 2012

Victoria’s spending on senior employee salaries is the runaway leader when compared to that of other core municipalities in the capital region.

Victoria lists 225 city employees who made more than $75,000 last year, for a total of more than $21.3 million in compensation.

In Saanich, the largest municipality in the region, 171 employees were paid more than $75,000 for a total of $16.1 million — about $5 million less than Victoria shelled out.

Saanich’s expenses for that same group were also dramatically less — almost $155,000 compared to just under $422,000.

The figures for the core municipalities don’t include police but do include fire department employees.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said he can’t compare Saanich to Victoria, because they are such different municipalities.

“We just have a different management structure,” Leonard said.

According to just-released Public Bodies Report figures, the salary total for employees making more than $75,000 in Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich, with a combined population of close to 140,000, is about $23.3 million — only $2 million more than in Victoria, with a population of 78,000.

In Oak Bay, where the population is just over 18,000, 37 employees made more than $75,000, for a total of $3.7 million. Topping the salary list was administrator Mark Brennan, who received more than $150,000 in compensation and filed almost $3,000 in expenses.

Esquimalt, with a population of 16,200, listed 35 employees making more than $75,000 for a total of $3.58 million. The top earner was CAO Laurie Hurst, who made almost $164,000, plus more than $6,600 in expenses.

According to Victoria’s Public Bodies Report, Victoria city manager Gail Stephens received a compensation package worth more than $231,000 in 2011, a 5.5 per cent increase from 2010. Thirteen senior staff at the City of Victoria, including Stephens, have compensation packages of more than $165,000.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said her municipality fares well when compared to neighbouring municipalities.

“Every three years, we compare within the region what are our people being paid and you’ll find our compensation scale is quite reasonable,” Desjardins said.

In Saanich, the highest-paid person last year was Tim Wood, the municipality’s long-time administrator, who retired this year. Wood was paid just under $221,000 and recorded $5,500 in expenses.

He was the only Saanich employee to be paid more than $200,000. Several other top directors and managers were paid between $120,000 and $165,000.

Victoria has a corporate communications budget of almost $660,000, which includes just under $149,000 paid to communications director Katie Josephson. Saanich has no communications staff — it’s a task Leonard handles himself.

“I see some of my peers with that kind of staff and some days I’m tempted because it can be hard to keep up, but I don’t think it’s consistent with the culture we have here in Saanich,” Leonard said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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