PORT MOODY (NEWS 1130) – The acting mayor of Port Moody has confirmed that mayor-on-leave Rob Vagramov has opted to stop collecting a salary from the city until his sexual assault case is concluded.
Meghan Lahti says Vagramov has faced criticism for continuing to receive a paycheque.
“I think that there has been a lot of pressure from the residents for him to reconsider taking paid leave as opposed to unpaid,” she says. “Going into this there was not a clear understanding of how long this process would take.”
Vagramov is currently on a leave of absence after being charged with sexual assault in March of this year, and has also stepped away from his role on the police board.
A special prosecutor approved the single charge, related to an incident alleged to have happened in 2015. The prosecutor was appointed in December to investigate the allegation.
Elected this past October, this is Vagramov’s first term as mayor. At 28 years old, he is the youngest mayor in Metro Vancouver and one of the youngest in Canada.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Vagramov faced some controversy after an old video surfaced, showing him shotgunning a beer with a homeless man. He denies the sexual assault and is considered innocent until proven guilty.
“The mayor has opted to take a leave of absence, which is good,” Lahti says. “It allows the city to continue with the business at hand, and now he’s made a further decision to request that it not be a paid leave, which I think will satisfy a lot of people in the community.”
Vagramov was collecting a salary of about $110,000 a year, and Lahti says council was planning to discuss the issue of his pay at a meeting Tuesday night.
“When we’re trying to hold our budgets in keeping with our needs, any extra money is a stretch. There is the ability to pay, of course,” she says. “I think it’s a good thing. There’s been a lot of criticism. I don’t think that he realized how long this process would take.”
The mayor-on-leave is due back in court on July 15.
With files from Estefania Duran and Denise Wong.