Guelph, the city that dances in the dark

Posted July 27, 2013

A recent report by the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers (CFT) gave Guelph a D rating of its management of staff costs.

The main thrust was to compare the numbers of staff earning more than $100,000 in 20 major Ontario cities including Guelph. It measured the rate of growth in the number of those earning more than $100,000 range and their increases in salaries. The study was done over a two-year period. Data came from the mandatory report every Ontario municipality must submit called the Sunshine list.

The report stated that in two years the number of City of Guelph employees earning more than $100,000 grew by 70.2 per cent. Further, the growth of salaries in the $100,000 club grew by 69 per cent.

There were 173 civic employees earning more than $100,000 according to the 2012 provincial Sunshine list. The average salary in the group was $118,444. The Sunshine list does not include the total compensation received including health coverage, insurance, pension benefits, parking, vacation, sick leave, and bonuses.

So who does the city administration trot out to dispute the results of the CFT grading but a senior city employee earning $166,000 a year? It was none other than Mark Amorosi, executive director of Corporate and Human Resources. Good choice, he doesn’t live in the community and doesn’t pay property taxes here.

And where was the Chief Administration Officer when this was going on? Or the Mayor? One would think that the most senior staffer and head of the municipality would have something to say about such a damning report.

At first the $166,000 man said that because of some “inevitable inconsistencies” in the CTF data, “It’s hard for us to offer comment on it.” Then he goes ahead and dumps on the report stating there are more reliable metrics to determine how Guelph is faring financially.

Guess he wasn’t including how, in the past four years, the city overspent its annual budgets by $24,771,000.

Or the clumsy misstep of telling Council the renovation of the downtown Farmer’s Market would cost $170,000 and within two months, announced the cost would be $500,000.

Or in passing the 2013 budget with a 2.96 per cent property tax increase to later admit it was adjusted to 3.74 per cent.

Or six months later informing council that the staff could not find $500,000 in efficiencies (savings) to maintain the 2.96 per cent tax increase promised in the 2013 budget.

Our staff costs are out of control and if other cities can reduce the high costs of staff operations, so should Guelph, the city that has one of the worst records of controlling staff costs in the province.

You can run Mark, but you can’t hide.

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2 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

2 responses to “Guelph, the city that dances in the dark

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    One could interpret the “D” rating as meaning DUMP the tax & spend members of council in the Oct 2014 civic elections followed quickly by DUMPING the free spending administration members.! Duh?

  2. Milton Burns

    Perhaps Mr. Amorosi has forgotten that in his own 2011 Human Resources that salaries were 33.7% of operating costs compared to 30% average for Ontario Municipalities.{See page 16 of report]Benefits combined are 14% than the benchmark[See page 7of the report]
    City of Guelph costs of salary and benefits rose by 68.i the five years 2007-2011 while a combination of Cambridge, Kitchener. Waterloo and Waterloo Region had a 40.1% increase in the same period . Had Guelph attained the same of cost control as our neighbors, it would result in a saving of $26 million in a single year..
    Based on this,Mr. Amorosi’s performance should be rated a big fat F.

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