Retroactive payments to firefighters boost PoMo’s payroll

Retroactive payments to Port Moody firefighters in the wake of their new collective agreement with the city helped swell the ranks of civic employees who earned more than $100,000 to 65 last year.

That’s more than double the previous year, when 32 city employees earned six figures, according to PoMo's 2016 statement of financial information (SOFI).

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Paul Rockwood, general manager of PoMo's finance and technology department, said the new contract with the Port Moody Firefighters Union Local 2399, that was agreed to in May runs from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2019. That meant considerable retroactive payments to the firefighters going back to the start of the new contract.

Rockwood said the salaries of management and exempt staff were also reviewed last year and resulted in some of those that were deemed to be below market rates getting a boost.

In total, the city spent $21,837,330 on staffing in 2016 plus another $961,751 in taxable benefits, payouts and expenses. That’s just over 10% more than city salaries cost in 2015, when it spent $19,819,507.

Port Moody’s highest paid staffer last year was fire department Deputy Chief Gord Parker, who earned $185,908 in salary, payouts and expenses. Rockwood said Parker’s base salary of $129,402 was boosted by the payout of an accumulated gratuity benefit that amounted to $53,798.

“The gratuity benefit is a cost savings incentive to minimize the use of sick time,” said Rockwood, adding it has been phased out for most city employees except those in the firefighters’ union and members of police services.

Mayor Mike Clay earned a base salary last year of $57,752, plus a tax-free allowance of $28,876 and taxable benefits of $1,536. He claimed $7,192 for expenses. Councillors each received a base salary of 22,971 in addition to a tax-free allowance of $11,211.

Coun. Zoe Royer claimed the most expenses, $8,021, while Coun. Barbara Junker was the most spendthrift; her expenses totalled $3,123.

The SOFI report will be presented to Port Moody council at Tuesday's meeting. The provincial Financial Information Act requires local governments to release their spending reports by June 30 of each year. The reports include audits, debt schedules, compensation for employees and council, as well as payments for goods and services more than $25,000.

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