Posted April 2, 2013
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
The recent release by the Province of the Public Sector Salary disclosures list includes all municipal employees earning more than $100,000. It shows that Guelph employed 177 individuals to operate and manage the city. It works out to be 12 per cent of the total number of employees.
That number is dwarfed by the 787 employees at the University of Guelph earning more than $100,000. City councillor Lise Burcher made the list earning $103,686 as an Associate Professor. City councillors Leanne Piper and Maggie Laidlaw are also employees at the University of Guelph but did not make the list of those earning more than 100,000.
There is a marked difference in the salaries paid when comparing apples to apples, the 110 Guelph civic staff earning more than $100,000 to that of Cambridge that has 87.
The direct comparison is in the 2010 populations of the two cities as reported by Statistics Canada. Guelph’s population is 128,000, slightly less than Cambridge with 132,900 residents.
For example, Guelph’s Fire chief made $170,102 in 2012 with added benefits of $8,162. His counterpart in Cambridge earned $154,806 plus $9,722 in benefits. Of course there are factors confined to the individual municipality. Guelph’s fire chief is listed as: General Manager, Emergency Services/Fire chief. That would suggest he has additional responsibilities. But isn’t that what a fire department is responsible for, handling all kinds of emergencies?
Guelph’s deputy Fire Chief earned $154,598 in 2012 with $8,071 in benefits. The Cambridge deputy fire chief earned $127,249 with $3,633 in benefits.
There are many other examples of comparable jobs that show that Cambridge’s civic staffs’ costs are markedly lower than Guelph’s.
The whole question of benefits fails to reveal the nature of these costs. By statute, the figures are provided by the various municipalities, school boards and post secondary institutions. The Provincial government states clearly that they publish only the information they receive. The details of benefits are not revealed.
Are the benefits taxable? Do they include travel, accommodation, entertainment, membership to clubs and associations, city-provided credit cards charges, parking, or expensive orange juice?
The taxpayers should know not only how much its staff costs but details of the benefits. The city publishes a list of some 24 benefits that are available to staff.
Al Horsman, who was hired in June 2012 did not make the list. Only those on staff for 12 months are listed. Mr. Horsman is executive director/chief financial officer for the city. Details of his employment have not been revealed. We won’t be informed until early 2014 when the province releases the 2013 list.
Is the $20,000 moving inducement bonus, recently paid to Chief Administration Officer Ann Pappert to move to Guelph a taxable benefit? There is provision under Canada Revenue Agency rules to deduct certain moving expenses when you change jobs. In Ms. Pappert’s case she lived in Waterloo but has been employed by the city prior to her promotion, so writing off the cost of moving may not be an option. It would be a taxable benefit.
What other special arrangements have been made to other employees? Does senior staff have written contracts that include benefits and bonuses? The taxpayers will never know because this administration does want you to know.
The public trust erodes when the city administration does not reveal real costs of staff and major building projects.
What is the turnover rate of city staff? How many were terminated and at what cost? How many resigned? Why was it necessary to hire 23 additional staff for 2013? Were these to replace those who had left or were they new positions?
How is the taxpayer able to judge whether their city is being run efficiently with carefully controlled costs?
To achieve this, requires a more revealing budget process that starts first with the estimated revenues for the coming year and then creates an expenses budget that matches revenue. It’s not rocket science. The days of the senior staff wandering down the hall to the council chamber with a wish list must end. Last year’s budget debacle when the staff told council it needed an 8.5 per cent tax increase was an example of hocus pocus financial management.
Despite cutting the increase to slightly under three per cent, Executive director of Environmental Services, engineering and planning, managed to gain approval for $2.6 million for a second weight scale at the organic waste management complex.
How did that happen? Why wasn’t that included in the original planning and costing of the organics plant?
Council approved that expense by using $998,000 of the federal gas tax rebate intended to be used for transportation needs.
That, my friends, is yet another example of how your money is being manipulated and wasted. That weigh scale approval has jacked up the price of the new waste management system to more than $52 million.
And in 2012, the $37 million plant produced 3,414 tonnes of compost. If ever there was a screaming need for an independent audit of that whole waste management operation, it is now.
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.