Are Guelph’s civic workers paid too much?

It’s the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about: Why are Guelph’s top 25 civic staff managers receiving the highest salaries among eight comparably-sized cities? These figures are not the latest but the trend is ever upward and onward.

City                   Average pay                   Average pay                      Average pay             Population

Top 5 managers            Top 10 managers             Top 25 managers

Guelph            $168,081.20                     $167,994.18                   $142,088.59               116,000

Belleville          $132,224.99                    $124,764.77                     $115,428.50                50,000

Sarnia               $122,461.48                    $127,897.70                    $117,048.56              100,000

Brantford          $219,777.38                   $146,830.29                     $129,967.36                 90,000

Kingston           $144,815.95                   $139,517.87                      $124,795.43               109,000

Thunder Bay    $123,580.15                    $138,576.26                     $121,083.77               122,000

Sudbury             $181,000.88                  $160,685.89                      $137,116.54                157,857

Barrie                 $166,240.02                   $154,992.39                      $133,693.17               177,000

Source: Province of Ontario

Brantford pays its top five managers an average of $219,777 to lead the group. Isn’t that where Guelph’s CAO, the retiring Hans Loewig, was previously employed?

When Human Resources Director, Mark Amorosi, recommended to council that the new Chief Administration Officer should be paid at the 60 percentile level, one should consider that his recommendation is self serving. Council rejected the proposal and settled for 55 percentile. The agreed level allows the headhunter to offer a salary and benefits package that would be higher than that paid by similar-sized cities.

An independent body appointed by council should oversee the hiring of senior managers. Otherwise the perpetual increases in pay and benefits for senior city staff will continue to escalate.

The fact that more than 289 fulltime equivalent employees were added to staff from 2006 to 2009, only reinforces the danger of uncontrolled staff growth. The staff count rose 8.1 per cent annually in the same period, far exceeding Guelph’s population growth.

Note: the official 2010 audited financial statements for the city have yet to be released.

Guelph’s civic staff salary and benefits totaled $139,400,000 of the 2009 budget of $157,300,000 or 88.6 per cent. Staff costs rose by 47.2 per cent in three-years.

One must be cautious about allowing the fox among the chickens.

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