NANAIMO — Despite facing scrutiny over his improper use of a City credit card, 2017 was a lucrative year for Nanaimo's former chief financial officer.
Victor Mema saw his earnings increase almost 40 per cent over the course of last year, according to documents obtained by NanaimoNewsNOW. His final earnings in 2017 were a little more than $225,000, significantly higher than the $162,000 reported in the City's 2016 statement of financial information.
The biggest boost to Mema's salary came in September of last year, when chief administrative officer Tracy Samra gave him a nearly $24,000 bonus.
"He deserves this bonus big time for holding down the Fort for more than 5 months now without a break. He's done an exception (sic) job too," Samra said in a late August email to human resources staff.
The bonus also came with three weeks worth of leave days.
Samra's decision to financially reward Mema came despite her knowledge of his misuse of a City credit card. By the time the bonus was paid, Mema made more than 60 charges deemed personal by staff, with Samra signing her approval on the majority of the statements outlining the improper spending.
Barely a month after the bonus was awarded, Mema's City card was suspended due to his continued personal spending.
Mema also earned a 10 per cent boost to his salary from March to November of last year while serving as acting CAO while Samra was on leave. Taxpayers were responsible for paying Samra's full salary plus Mema's increased wage for the duration of her leave.
"Your support during this time is appreciated, Victor and I wish you all the best with this assignment," Samra said in a letter to Mema awarding him the acting CAO pay.
That letter was sent shortly after concerned finance staff were told someone would be meeting with Mema to discuss his spending habits and put an end to them. There is no written record of that meeting and the personal spending continued up until and after Mema was awarded his bonus.
In February 2017, the CAO also gave Mema an allowance to "assist in offsetting your living expenses." A letter from Samra to Mema said he did not permanently relocate to Nanaimo when he began with the City in September 2015. The letter said Mema stayed in Nanaimo all week and then went to the Lower Mainland on weekends.
The $300 allowance was awarded retroactively to Mema's start date and carried on for a total of 24 months.
Mema and the City parted ways earlier this month. The City will only say he is no longer employed and will not confirm reports Council fired Mema with cause.
Meanwhile, Council is scheduled to meet on May 25 in-camera to discuss the fate of Samra, who remains on leave following her arrest on Jan. 31.
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