District of Sparwood logo and flag. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

District of Sparwood logo and flag. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

A look inside the wallet: Elk Valley municipalities release financial info for 2020

Municipalities are mandated to report on pay to elected officials and employees by the provincial government

All three of the Elk Valley municipalities have released their 2020 Statements of Financial Information, detailing remuneration for elected officials and staff as part of annual financial reporting requirements mandated by the provincial government.

The statements ensure government transparency and are compulsory.

First looking at Sparwood, combined, the seven elected officials of Sparwood were paid $139,124 in 2020.

Of that, Mayor David Wilks took home $38,888, while the six councillors made $16,706 each.

Compared to statements from 2019, Sparwood’s elected officials received a 6.06 percent increase in their take-home pay last year compared to the year before. In 2019, Wilks earned $36,665 and the six councillors earned $15,751 each.

Wilks (along with the mayors of Elkford and Fernie) also serves as a Director at the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), through which he was paid $21,070 last year according to the regional district’s own Statement of Financial Information which it released in early May.

The District of Sparwood employs 23 people who earn more than $75,000, totalling $2,275,257.

The top-paid public servant in Sparwood is, as expected, the district’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michele Schalekamp, who earned $160,924 last year, according to the financial disclosures.

Another seven district employees earned six figures last year.

Also reported under the statements were payments to suppliers for goods and services that exceeded $25,000, with 49 organizations receiving payment from Sparwood above that threshold, totalling $5,394,634. Black Press, the owner of The Free Press is included among them, having been paid $26,981 by the district for advertising and public notices published in the newspaper.

In Elkford, Mayor Dean McKerracher earned $32,773, while five of the six councillors earned $16,461, and one earned $17,036.

In his role as a director with the RDEK, and as Hospital District Chair, McKerracher also earned another $23,973.

In Elkford, there are 18 staff members that top the $75,000 threshold, and as expected, the top paid official was the CAO, Tyler Madsen who earned $146,865. Another six employees earned over six figures. Total remuneration for Elkford employees (excluding elected officials at $132,116) was $3,020,958.

Elkford made over $14 million in payments to suppliers, with 48 receiving over $25,000.

The City of Fernie pays its elected officials the most, with Mayor Ange Qualizza earning $40,022.64 last year (not including $3,105.61 in expenses), while the six councillors each earned $20,011.

Each of Fernie’s elected officials received a modest pay-raise of 4.5 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Like the other mayors, Qualizza also earned a paycheck from her responsibilities as an RDEK director, receiving $21,150 for 2020 from the regional district.

The top-paid official with the city was again, the CAO, Michael Boronowski who earned $160,647 in pay and claimed $13,999 in expenses.

The City of Fernie had 42 employees on the payroll in 2020 that earned more than $75,000 (the same number as 2019), of which, 18 of them earned over six figures.

The total pay for city employees and elected officials for last year was $6,249,815.

69 businesses were paid more than $25,000 by the City of Fernie in 2020. Like Sparwood, Black Press was among them, receiving $30,035.08 through the year. The total paid to suppliers (both passing the $25,000 threshold and below) was $16,053,389.19.

Each municipalities Statements of Financial Information can be found online.

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