City council’s proudest motorist Kerry Jang has not received a designated car allowance since he was elected in 2008 and he didn’t know about it until a few weeks ago.
Now, because of a clerical error, the city owes Jang $11,795. “I didn’t even notice,” said Jang, who has made many speeches in council chambers about his love for driving. “I had always thought it was added to my paycheque automatically. Apparently, it wasn’t.”
Jang said when he was elected he told a clerk to add his transportation allowance to his salary cheque. But, he admitted, he wasn’t diligent about examining the breakdown of his electronic pay stub. It wasn’t until his fellow Vision councillor Tony Tang noticed the oversight a couple of weeks ago that Jang realized he was owed his transportation allowance. Recently, councillors have been able to examine each others’ expenses via quarterly statements, as part of the city’s so-called open data policy. “It was a clerical error and they’re trying to fix it now,” said Jang, who is expected to receive his $11,795 this month. “But with or without an allowance, I would still be driving my car — proudly.”
The oversight was mentioned in a staff report that went before council Tuesday. The report lists how much Mayor Gregor Robertson and his councillors earned in 2012 and what they spent on travel and other expenses.
The mayor collected $145,581 for a salary while the majority of councillors earned $66,820, with Jang and Heather Deal topping out at $69,500 for deputy mayor duties.
Robertson’s total expenses were $27, 266 and included trips to Germany, Paris, Singapore, London and Chicago for conferences. The mayor, who uses his bike regularly to get to functions, also declared a transportation allowance of $7,175. Six councillors had transportation allowances of $3,848 each while others such as Geoff Meggs chose to forgo his allowance and file his taxi, bus and SkyTrain fares as local expenses.
Meggs’ total tab was $2,288, which is more than $1,500 less than the designated transportation allowance. Meggs said he rarely drives but will use a co-op car on occasion.
“I didn’t think it made sense to take a transportation allowance if I didn’t drive,” he said.
NPA Coun. George Affleck, who declared a transportation allowance of $3,848, reported the lowest expenses for travel and conferences. He submitted a $45 bill for the cost of canceling his attendance at a Lower Mainland Local Government Association meeting in Whistler.
Robertson and the majority of councillors also earn money from their duties as directors of Metro Vancouver. In 2011, Jang collected $670, Meggs $12,645, Andrea Reimer $9,900, Robertson $5,280, Tim Stevenson $24,615 and Raymond Louie $14,300.
Louie is now the vice-chair of Metro Vancouver and will earn $34,564 this year. The 2012 pay rate for other board and committee members is $346 for each meeting attended, if the meeting is less than four hours long. If the meeting stretches past four hours, a politician gets $692.
Metro Vancouver will release what all directors earned in 2012 in a report to be made public in June. Expenses will also be included in the report.