Financial statements reveal pay for elected officials

The end of June marked the final day municipalities were bound to publicly release financial statements for 2013.

If life rolled along smoothly and politics-free in the Greater Trail area, serving as an elected official could bump the monthly income without a lot of work involved.

But with long standing disputes over sewer and water, boundaries and the land we choose to recreate on, becoming a rural politician doesn’t always mean a big payday.

The end of June marked the final day municipalities were bound to publicly release financial statements for 2013, which includes remuneration for elected officials and their expenses.

Montrose’s five member council serves its community of about 1,000 people at the low end of the pay scale when compared to neighbouring townships.

The village’s mayor earned about $6,000 last year, or $500 monthly, and the four Montrose councillors were paid $3,515 or $293 each month.

But the job isn’t about the pay for Coun. Mary Gay who said in a smaller area like Montrose, it’s more about serving the constituents and being active in the community.

“It’s something I want to do and not something I do for the money,” she said. “We are such as small area it’s important to keep costs down for our taxpayers and not ask for more.”

Half way up the pay scale ladder is Rossland’s Greg Granstrom earning $11,800 as the two-term mayor of about 3,500 people.

He’s followed by Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini, a first term official paid $12,000 to serve a population of 2,000.

Both village and city councillors earn about half that number at $6,000 per year, or $500 each month to perform duties that include administering policies, allocating municipal funds and tax levies during annual budget talks, and adopting bylaws for the protection of the public.

Top civic earner in the region, excluding regional district directors, was Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.

He earned $28,000 or just over $2,300 a month to govern the Silver City’s 5,733 residents.

But after 17 years at the helm, Bogs said the time commitment has grown in his last term because the city is at its busiest in years.

“We haven’t had this many major projects going on for a very long time,” said Bogs. “So I spend more time that’s probably required to make sure I stay on top of all the issues.”

Aside from the upcoming bridge referendum, downtown Trail revitalization project and the boundary expansion proposal, Bogs works one-on-one with residents over matters such as unsightly premises, property disputes and sewer disruptions.

“You really have to be involved at that level along with the councillors,” he said. “Residents contact us all the time over issues with things like tree roots, colours of siding, and sewer lines,” explained Bogs. “And we’ll visit those homes and try to find a solution.”

When they aren’t dealing with neighbourhood woes, Trail councillors pull in $14,000 each year or $1167 per month, for committing to bimonthly council and governance meetings, unscheduled special meetings and various community engagements.

Falling mid range on the indemnity scale is Warfield’s council, with Mayor Bert Crockett earning about $9,200 a year, or $833 per month, and each of the four village councillors, about $384 per month.

“When you take this on it is a dedicated commitment,” said Crockett. “With lots of hours involved to attend as many meetings and functions in as many communities as you can,” he said. “You have to make yourself available.”

Crockett said that often people comment that the councillors are retirement-aged and older.

“But it would be pretty difficult to do this working nine til five,” he added.

Mayor and council remuneration is written into municipal bylaw and each year the rate of pay is reviewed during budget talks.

In addition to a yearly indemnity, the mayors and council are reimbursed for expenses incurred during municipal business, such as the cost of travel and lodging.

Often those expenses add up to about half the annual remuneration and last year Bogs was reimbursed about $12,000, Cecchini $$7,400; Granstrom expended $5,500; Danchuk $5,900; while Crockett received $683 towards costs.