TransLink -- everyone's favourite whipping boy in the Lower Mainland -- is about to be put to the electoral test and it promises not to be pretty. The fate of TransLink's future funding will be decided in the midst of the introduction of the Compass card, and Lower Mainland residents know full well how that initiative has been going as of late. It doesn't bode well for the vote.
If TransLink is as broke as it claims to be, why are taxpayers so grossly overpaying its chief executive officer? Ian Jarvis received $394,730 in salary, incentives and taxable benefits in 2012, plus another $32,552 in taxpayer-funded petition contributions. On top of that, Jarvis took $11,418 in "other" benefits, including a "Wellness Allowance" that apparently only the CEO is eligible for. That's a total compensation package of $438,700. Jarvis made $140,000 more last year than the province's deputy transportation minister, Grant Main. He made $200,000 more than Premier Christy Clark. Clark wasn't alone; Jarvis out earned Prime Minister Stephen Harper by nearly $75,000.
Giving TransLink more tax dollars is like giving a pyromaniac a fresh box of matches. Both will eventually run out and keep coming back for more -- unless they change their ways. TransLink's executive vice-president Bob Paddon, he of the $307,857 annual pay, claims his operation is an "efficient and well-run organization." The facts prove otherwise. TransLink is a rat's nest of redundancy and waste.
At TransLink, the inmates are now running the asylum. With such little support from taxpayers, riders, mayors, the minister and the board chair, TransLink's push for a $23 billion tax-and-spend binge is coming from its senior executive team. They are making media appearances and desperately trying to push for higher taxes. It will be up to the taxpayers to take the keys away from the transportation authority's senior executives
A billion here, a billion there, it adds up. That's the problem with shopping lists. The municipalities that make up Metro Vancouver are facing the same predicament as they try to choose between the bare necessities, luxuries and how you're going to pay for it all. While some of these projects may be sold to the public as "self-supported" that's just political-speak for "you're still picking up the tab." Whether it's through tolls or tipping fees, they're just euphemisms for picking your pocket.
At least 30 officials in the communities that make up Metro Vancouver earn a minimum six-figure salary that puts them among the top one per cent of all income earners in Canada. It takes a lot of kahunas for some of these same civic officials to claim that their cupboards are bare when the cookie jar is overflowing for themselves.
What if a public company gave one set of sales numbers to its board of directors, another to its shareholders, and a third to its auditors? Would you feel comfortable entrusting the executive of this company with a $29.6 million investment? Incredibly, that's precisely what has happened with the Transit Police.
While TransLink's habitual tax increases, never-ending budget deficits and lack of direct accountability have been well documented over the past several years, Metro Vancouver has slid somewhat under the radar. This lack of accountability to taxpayers has been a problem at Metro Vancouver for a long time, fostered by staffers playing political games and local politicians distracted by their elected duties at their various city halls.