Last week The Northern View reported on the 2016 statement of financial information (SOFI), which was released at the June 12 meeting of council.
The SOFI report demonstrated a 16 per cent increase in staff making more than $75,000 — but a chunk of that money comes from the Prince Rupert Legacy Fund, including a $17,000 per year top-up for Mayor Lee Brain.
“The SOFI reports remuneration – it does not report the source of the remuneration,” said Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the city. Adding that the 16 per cent increase was part of temporary increases in salaries and creation of positions via the Legacy Fund Planning for Major Projects budget passed in 2015.
The Legacy Fund was incorporated in 2014 and according to the city’s website is meant to “maximize benefit to the city and community,” allowing the city to use company earnings from land sales to be distributed to the city for general use. The planning for major projects budget was passed in 2015 and allocated $1.3 million every year for the next four years.
Breakdown of money spent in the past two years:
$220,000 major projects and baseline data collection
$150,000 for public engagement
$120,000 for the decommissioning and redeployment of Watson Island
$210,000 for contingencies
$150,000 for a recruitment and retention plan for existing city staff
$450,000 for additional planning, communications and engineering staff
“Many of us were hired late 2015 or early 2016, so that is why the difference in remuneration,” said Stewart, citing the $450,000 amount.
The 2015 SOFI for the legacy fund states a total of $262,620 for wages and benefits with the mayor’s salary being increased by $16,720 and four positions (communications manager, junior planner, manager of community development and civic innovation and deputy corporate administrator) making up the remaining $245,900.
The 2016 SOFI for the legacy fund states a total of $344,561 for wages and benefits with $17,000 allocated to the mayor and the remaining $327,561 split amongst the same positions listed in the above paragraph (with the junior planner being replaced by a community planner.)
The positions were created to accommodate potential growth within the city due to the five proposed liquefied natural gas facilities, which would require additional staffing and funding via the legacy fund and has a sunset clause of four years, should no LNG projects proceed.
Of the $1.3 million allocated in 2015 for major projects, $409,000 was unspent and in 2016, the fund was $708,589 under budget.