District of Barriere staff wages lowest in B.C. for similar-sized municipalities

Answering questions asked regarding the wages being paid by the District of Barriere to staff

A number of questions have been asked this past week regarding the wages being paid by the District of Barriere to staff.

We have investigated what the wages of staff in the municipality are, and how they compare with other municipalities of similar size.

Here are some factual wage comparisons for local government managers in British Columbia.

Barriere’s CAO and finance officers are paid a salary of $90,000 and $68,350.

Clearwater, Ashcroft and Lumby are close at $100,358/$90,000, $103,000/$75,190 and $104,000/$86,275 respectively.

Valemount, with a population of just over 1,000 only pays their CAO $76,132, but they also have a corporate officer, a finance officer and an economic development officer on their management team.

In Barriere the CAO and corporate officer are the same person, one salary.   The CAO is also the Subdivision Approving Officer, a position that is apparently often contracted in many smaller municipalities.

We have been told that Barriere’s CAO is also a Registered Professional Planner, and that this   can save the municipality a minimum of $5,000 to $30,000 a year in regards to the Zoning Bylaw and other planning documents.

Barriere does not  have a paid economic development officer at this time.

On further research it appears that the District of Barriere staff are paid a wage that is at the bottom of the wage scale for local government staff in British Columbia, and they do not currently have any union employees.

We have also been informed that the majority of District staff have certifications that could possibly enable them to seek a higher wage working elsewhere, but most of the staff say they want to work where they live, which is in Barriere.

“Taxpayers in Barriere need to know that we have an incredibly well-educated, experienced and dedicated staff that saves the community thousands of dollars a year in external consultant fees that smaller municipalities usually pay for planners, subdivision approving officers, economic development officers, grant writers, plumbers, tree fallers, etcetera,” stated District of Barriere CAO Colleen Hannigan, “If at all possible, work is assigned internally to save money.”

At the District of Barriere Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 4, the following resolution was brought forward from closed session into Business Arising from Closed Session:

“That Council approve a stipend of $13,120 to Nora Johnson, Finance Officer, for her efforts above and beyond her required duties prior to a full time Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) being hired in August 2010 and that the required amount be taken from General Surplus.”

Those who opposed this were: Mayor Humphreys, Councillors Kershaw and Sabyan.  In favour were Councillors Ward Stamer, Virginia Smith, Glen Stanley and Pat Paula.

Public servant salaries above $75,000 are published annually and available on line for those who are interested,