Comparing apples with pumpkins

Posted August 8, 2012

Is Guelph’s unelected Chief Administration Officer’ salary out of proportion with other senior unelected officials in other municipalities?

Ann Pappert, hired last fall to be the city’s CAO, brought her old $160,000 salary into the job. Within a few months it was increased to more than $190,000.  The former CAO, Hans Loewig, was paid $202,000.

Now lets examine what the Region of York pays its unelected Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Bill Fisch. He presides over a region composed of nine municipalities with nine councils.

In 2011, Bill Fisch was paid $207,654.

Does it make sense that the chief executive in charge of the region with a population of 1.1 million should be making only $17,000 more than the CAO of Guelph, population 122,000?

Guelph council approves all these executive salaries, usually on the advice of staff. Chief in charge of this process is the Executive Director of Human Resources, Mark Amorosi. He is the key senior staffer who handles all employment issues.

So why is Guelph paying senior management salaries that are in the same league with those of regional governments?

The Mayor Farbridge-dominated Guelph council has allowed five years of unwarranted salary creep by its senior managers and other staffers.

For example, would the individual running Cott Beverages expect be making close to the same salary as the person running Coca Cola?

The problem with awarding remuneration to city staff is that the arbitrators themselves are members of the city staff. Further, city council has rolled over at salary review time every year accepting the parity line from Mr. Amorosi and his staff supporters.

One can understand that parity is logical when comparing apples to apples, not apples to pumpkins.

It won’t change until the 2014 election. And if Mayor Farbridge and her supporters lose their grip on council, you can bet the farm that staff salaries will be throttled back even if it means reducing staff.

Of course this goes back to that perverted system of establishing next year’s tax increase. The staff requests an 8.5 per cent increase while council stickhandles around the issue, mumbling about a 3 per cent increase in taxes.

And with that, they defeated a motion by Coun. Cam Guthrie to keep working in August to do the city’s business, including discussing the 2013 budget.

The council mumbling was accompanied by the mournful wail of: “We’ve never done that before.”

Four councillors were ready to work. The other six attending, including the Mayor said no. Something to remember in 2014.

Creating a budget is a serious and frequently tough job. First, council should inform the staff that the budget figure available in 2012 is the maximum available for 2013.

Instead of accommodating the staff wish list, instruct them to look at ways to cut costs if they want to expense and justify new items.

The staff proposed a $15.5 million increase for 2013. Of that, $5.5 million was composed of staff increases in salaries, wages and benefits.

Now do you see the problem?

Harrumph! Apples and pumpkins, indeed.




Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “Comparing apples with pumpkins

  1. paulphelan

    At the wages some are receiving it may be beneficial to pay them more under the condition that they leave their posts…..two in particular….

  2. Pingback: Comparing apples with pumpkins - Cambridge Advocate

  3. geo

    What do they pay the Premier, Walnut McFibby, er I mean Dalton Mcguinty. After all he started all this when he granted the legislature a 25% pay increase.

  4. mjb

    Too many, too much, too long. Trim the fat…no fiscal responsibility whatsoever.

  5. Jerry

    See the problem is that some of the councillors that want August off are
    also professors or some how tied in to the University of Guelph.So in
    saying that they need August off to get ready for the fall session.
    The other councillors that are not are just chasing the tail of the dog!!!!!!!.

    Hats of to Cam Guthrie and the other councillors that stood up against the
    mayor and others.

    • paulphelan

      I agree Jerry

    • Jerry: You may be on to something there. The underlying problem is that the majority of councillors don’t give a damn about the needs of the city and its residents. This council has to be the most unyielding, unthinking and controlling in all my experience of covering politics.Talk to your friends and neighbours, together we can change the way the city is being run. Of course refer them to for the latest in what’s happening. This is a blog for the people by the people. Contributions are always welcome.

  6. tonyt

    What gets me is all the money we lose on these facilities. Yet still we pay higher and higher wages? Explain why the river run center loses money yet wages go up? The sleeman center same thing. The buses run with lots of signs that say place your add here. Why is this? They should be filled with adds. Has this guy/woman been fired? And on and on…
    This is all middle/upper management.

    There in lies part of the problem; while the cats are away the mice will play and more money is squandered. Theres a reason why people joke about city workers; 3 guys standing around while one guy works with the shovel.
    Also another possible problem if this group does get voted out. How many people will be shown the door or leave because of the shift in policy. How much will we have to pay in severance when these people leave?

    • tonyt: The majority of Guelph’s employees work hard, are diligent and responsible. The trouble lies at the top where ideological decisions are made without regard to the cost. An example is building a $33 million compost plant that has a capacity of producing compost that is six times the amount of wet waste generated in the city. Then halfway through the construction to be told by the Province that the plastic bag collection system could not use the plant. Result? Spend another $15 million on an automated bin collect system. These decisions are not being made by the majority of staff but right at the top. The Mayor calls the shots. She has loaded up the senior manager ranks with her supporters who carry out her will. She controls council with a majority of fellow travelers who slavishly vote her agenda with acute regularity. Fortunately, people like yourself are figuring it out. We get our chance to defeat this bunch in October, 2014. I hope you and your friends help to make it happen.

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