Opinion

EDITORIAL: Questioning the status quo

After four and a half years of service, former city manager Frank Pizzuto abruptly tendered his resignation in mid-December.

No reasons were given, and Mayor Bruce Banman said he was “surprised” by the timing.

It took a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The News for the other penny to drop.

According to a document eventually provided by city hall, Pizzuto received a payment of $321,000 upon his departure, including a year of salary, holiday time, and other benefits.

How is it that a city executive earning nearly $250,000 annually would be paid such a grand sum if he made the decision to leave?

It’s a good question, asked by many.

The answer is relatively straightforward. The payout was a condition of his contract, agreed to by the city when he was hired.

These scenarios are not unusual, much to the chagrin of irked taxpayers.

It is common for top civil administrators to be granted such lofty annual sums, and golden parachutes in their contracts.

And the common answer as to “why,” is that in order to attract the best candidates for the job, such payouts must be conditions of employment, competitive with the corporate world.

Whether that is actually true is the bigger question for the public, who are footing the bills.

We’d like to see a city put the status quo to the test, both in terms of salary levels and departure perks for public servants.

And if this really is entrenched bureaucratic culture, it would be in the public interest to see if it can be changed.

Why do governments simply pony up the bucks, without ever seeming to question if it’s realistic and reasonable?

Meanwhile, in Abbotsford, a new city manager has already been chosen and announced.

Local taxpayers are entitled to know the details of his remuneration. And it shouldn’t require an FOI to get them.

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